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FROM THE LIBRARY OF 
REV. LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, D. D. 

BEQUEATHED BY HIM TO 

THE LIBRARY OF 

PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 



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ANNA LiETITIA BARBAULD: 



WITH A MEMOIR 



BY LUCY AIKIN. 



Bright-eyed Fancy hovering o'er 

Scatters from her pictured urn 

Thoughts that breathe and words that bum. 



IX THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 

BOSTON. 

rlBLISHED BY DAVID REEli. 



182r ?< 



CAMBRIDGE : 
Printed by Hilliard & Metcalf. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/anneti02barb 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME II. 



Page;. 
Correspondence <5 

Miscellaneous Pieces. 

The Hill of Science : A Vision . . . . 95 

On Romances : An Imitation . . . . . 101 

Selama : An Imitation of Ossian . . . . ,105 

Against Inconsistency in our Expectations . . .. 110 

On Monastic Institutions . . . . . .119 

An Inquiry into those Kinds of Distress which excite agreeable 

Sensations: — With a Tale 133 

Thoughts on the Devotional Taste, and on Sects and Establish- 
ments ......... 146 

The Cure of the Banks of the Rhone . . . .167 

Zephyrus and Flora . . . . . • • 173 

On Evil: A Rhapsody 176 

Dialogue between Madame Cosmogunia and a Philosophical En- 
quirer of the Eighteenth Century . . . . 1 80 

Letter of John Bull 189 

Letter on Watering-places . . . . . 195 

On Education : 203 

On Prejudice . . . ; . • • 215 

Dialogue in the Shades ...... 227 

Knowledge and her Daughter : A Fable . . • 236 



Iv CONTENTS. 

Occasional Tracts. 

An Address to the Opposers of the Repeal of the Corporation 
and Test Acts 241 

Sins of Rulers, Sins of the Nation; a Discourse for the 
Fast. April 19, 1793 258 

Remarks on Mr. Gilbert Wakefield's Enquiry into the Expe- 
diency and Propriety of Social Worship . . . 282 



CORRESPONDENCE. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 



BEAR BROTHER, 

To my sister and yourself, Mr. Barbauld and I have 
a request to make, in which, though perhaps it may 
be rather singular, we are very seriously in earnest ; 
and therefore, whether you grant or deny, we hope 
you will neither laugh at us nor take it amiss. With- 
out further preface, it is this. You enjoy a blessing 
Providence has hitherto denied to us, — that of child- 
ren : you have already several, and seem very likely 
to have a numerous family. As to ourselves, having 
been thus long' without prospect of any, it is, to say 
the least, very uncertain whether that hope, which 
most I believe form when they marry, will ever be 
fulfilled. Some, indeed, say to us, that considering 
how large a family we have of others children, 't is 
rather fortunate we have none of our own. And true 
it is, that employed as we are in the business of 
education, we have many of the cares and some of 
the pleasures of a parent ; but the latter very imper- 
fectly. We have them not early enough to contract 
the fondness of affection which early care alone can 
give ; we have them not long enough to see the fruit 
of our culture ; and we have not enough the disposal 



4 CORRESPONDENCE. 

of them to follow our own plans and schemes in their 
education. We wish for one who might be wholly 
ours : and we think that if a child was made ours by 
being giv T en young into our hands, we could love it, 
and make it love us so well, as to supply in a great 
measure the want of the real relationship. We know 
there are many instances of people, who have taken 
the greatest satisfaction in, and felt the highest fond- 
uess for, children who by some accident have been 
thrown upon their arms. Why then should not we 
seek out and choose some object of such an affection ? 
and where can we better seek it than in a brother's 
family ? 

Our request then, in short, is this : that you will 
permit us to adopt one of your children ; which of 
them, we leave to you ; — that you will make it ours 
in every sense in which it is possible to make it, — - 
that you will transfer to us all the care and all the 
authority of a parent ; that w y e should provide for it, 
educate it, and have the entire direction of it, as far 
into life as the parental power itself extends. Now 
I know not what to say, to induce you to make us 
such a gift. Perhaps you will entirely deny it ; and 
then we must acquiesce : for I am sensible it is not a 
small thing we ask ; nor can it be easy for a parent 
to part with a child. This I would say, from a 
number, one may more easily be spared. Though 
it makes a very material difference in happiness 
whether a person has children or no children, it makes, 
I apprehend, little or none whether he has three, 
or four ; five, or six ; because four or five are enow 
to exercise all his whole stock of care and affection. 
We should gain, but you would not lose. I would' 
likewise put you in mind that you would not part with 
it to strangers ; the connexion between you and it 
would not be broken off: you would see it (I hope,} 



CORRESPONDENCE. 5 

hear of it often ; and it should he taught to love you, 
if it had not learnt that lesson before. Our child must 
love our brother and sister. Its relation to you is 
likewise a presumption that we shall not be wanting in 
that love for it, which will be necessary to make it 
happy. I believe both Mr. Barbauld and myself 
are much disposed to love children, and that w T e 
could soon grow fond of any one who was amiable 
and entirely under our care. How then can we 
fail to love a child, for whom at setting out. we shall 
have such a stock of affection as we must have for 
yours ? I hope, too, we should have too right a sense 
of things to spoil it ; and we see too much of children, 
to indulge an over-anxious care. But you know us 
w T ell enough to be able to judge in general how we 
should educate it, and whether to your satisfaction. 
Conscience and affection, I hope, would unite in in- 
citing us to fulfil an engagement we should thus 
voluntarily take upon ourselves, to the best of our 
abilities. 

Our situation is not a certain one, nor have we long 
tried it : but w T e have all the reason in the world to 
hope that if things go on as they have hitherto done, 
we should be able to provide for a child in a decent 
and comfortable manner. 

Now, my dear brother and sister, if you consent, 
give us which of your boys you please : if you had 
girls, perhaps we should ask a girl rather ; and if we 
might choose amongst your boys, we could make 
perhaps a choice ; — but that we do not expect you 
will let us. Give us, then, which you will ; only let 
him be healthy, inoculated, and as young as you can 
possibly venture him to undertake the journey. This 
last circumstance is indispensable : for if he were not 
quite young, we should not gain over him the influence, 
we could not feel for him the affection, which would 
1* 



*> CORRESPONDENCE. 

be necessary : besides, if at all able to play with our 
pupils, be would immediately mix with them, and 
would be little more to us than one of the school- 
boys. Do not, therefore, put us off by saying that 
one of yours, when he is old enough, shall pay us a 
visit. To see any of yours at any time, would no 
doubt give us the highest pleasure ; but that does not by 
any means come up to what we now ask. We now 
leave the matter before you ; consider maturely, and 
give us your answer. 

O no ! I never promised to fill this second sheet. 
Good bye to you. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

• Palgrave, 1777. 

You have given us too much pleasure lately, not 
to deserve an earlier acknowledgement. I hope you 
will believe we were not so dilatory in reading your 
book,* as we have been in thanking you for it. It is 
indeed a most elegant performance ; your thought is 
very just, and has never, I believe, been pursued be- 
fore. Both the defects and beauties which you have 
noticed are very striking, and the result of the whole 
work, besides the truths it conveys, is a most pleasing 
impression left upon the mind from the various and 
picturesque images brought into view. I hope your 
Essay will bring down our poets from their garrets 
to wander about the fields and hunt squirrels. I am 
clearly of your opinion, that the only chance we have 
for novelty, is by a more accurate observation of the 
works of Nature, though I think I should not have 



* An Essay on the Application of Natural History to poetry.-— 
Editor. 



CORRESPONDENCE. T 

confined the track quite so much as you have done 
to the animal creation, because sooner exhausted than 
the vegetable ; and some of the lines you have quoted 
from Thomson, show with how much advantage the 
latter may be made the subject of rich description. 
I think too, since you put me on criticising, it would 
not have been amiss, if you had drawn the line be- 
tween the poet and natural historian ; and shown how 
far, and in what cases, the one may avail himself of 
the knowledge of the other, — at what nice period that 
knowledge becomes so generally spread, as to author- 
ize the poetical describer to use it, without shocking 
the ear by the introduction of names and properties 
not sufficiently familiar, and when at the same time it 
retains novelty enough to strike. I have seen some 
rich descriptions of West Indian flowers and plants, — 
just, I dare say, but unpleasing merely because their 
names were uncouth, and forms not known generally 
enough to be put into verse. It is not, I own, much 
to the credit of poets, — but it is true, — that we do 
not seem disposed to take their word for any thing, 
and never willingly receive information from them. 

We are wondrous busy in preparing our play, The 
Tempest ; and four or five of our little ones are to 
come in as fairies ; and I am piecing scraps from the 
Midsummer Night's Dream, &c, to make a little 
scene, instead of the mask of Ceres and Juno. We 
have read Gibbon lately, who is certainly a very 
elegant and learned writer, and a very artful one. 
No other new books have we yet seen, — they come 
slow r to Norfolk, — but the Diaboliad, the author of 
which has a pretty sharp pen-knife, and cuts up very 
handsomely. Many are the literary matters I want 
to talk over with you when we meet, which I now 
look forward to as not a far-distant pleasure. 

We will come and endeavour to steal away Charles's 



CORRESPONDENCE. 

heart, before we run away with his person. Adieu ! 
Heaven bless you and yours. 



TO MISS DIXON, AFTERWARDS MRS. BEECROFT. 

Palgrave, Nov. 11th. 

I have long been determined to seize the first 
moment of leisure to write to my dear Miss Dixon ; 
but leisure is one of those things of which I enjoy 
the least, so I am at length determined to write with- 
out it. By the way, do you know the pedigree and 
adventures of Leisure ? 

She was born somewhere amongst the Chaldean 
shepherds, where she became a favourite of Urania ; 
and having been instructed in her sublime philosophy, 
taught men to observe the course of the stars, and to 
mark the slow T revolution of seasons. The next we 
hear of her, is in the rural mountains and valleys of 
Arcadia. In this delightful abode her charms made 
a conquest of the god Pan, who would often sit whole 
days by her side, tuning his pipe of unequal reeds. 
By him she had two beautiful children, Love and 
Poetry, the darlings of the shepherds, who received 
them in their arms, and brought them up amidst the 
murmur of bees, the falls of water, the lowing of 
cattle, and the various rural and peaceful sounds with 
which that region abounded. When the Romans 
spread the din of arms over the globe, Leisure was 
frightened from her soft retreats, and from the cold 
Scythian to the tawny Numidian could scarcely find 
a corner of the world to shelter her head in. When 
the fierce Goth and Vandal approached, matters were 
still worse, and Leisure took refuge in a convent on 
the winding banks of the Seine, where she employed 



CORRESPONDENCE. 9 

herself in making anagrams and cutting paper. Her 
retirement, however, did not pass without censure, for 
it is said she had an intrigue with the superior of the 
convent, and that the offspring of this amour was a 
daughter named Ennui. 

Mademoiselle Ennui was wafted over to England 
in a north-east wind, and settled herself with some of 
the best families in the kingdom. Indeed the mother 
seldom makes any long residence in a place without 
being intruded on by the daughter, who steals in and 
seats herself silently by her side. 

I hope, however, my amiable friend is now enjoy- 
ing the company of the mother, without fear of a visit 
from the daughter, whom her taste and liveliness will, 
I am sure, ever exclude from her habitation. 



TO MISS DIXON*. 

Thanks to my dear Miss Dixon for her frank and 
affectionate letter. A thousand good wishes attend 
her ; but as I hope to breathe them soon from my 
lips, I shall spare my pen a task to which it is not 
adequate. 

You have rejoiced my heart by allowing me to 
hope that we shall still see you at Palgrave before 
the important event takes place. If you had not 
acknowledged that you were going to be married, 
I should naturally have concluded it from your saying 
you have not time to read Cecilia. Not time to read 
a novel ! — that is so grave ! — Nay, if I had not known 
you, I should have supposed you had been actually 
married a dozen years at least. But you must read 
Cecilia, and you must read Hayley's poem, and you 
may read Scott's poems if you like, and at least you 
must look at the plates, &c. 



10 CORRESPONDENCE. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Palgrave, Jan. 19, 1778. 
It is a real concern to me thai i could not write 

to you from London Let me now then begin 

with telling you, that we two, Miss B , and one 

of our boys, got safe to Patera ve this afternoon. And 
now for the first time, Mr. Barbauld and I experienced 
the pleasure of having something to come home for, 
and of finding our dear Charles in perfect health and 
glad to see us again ; though wondering a little, and 
rather grave the first half-hour. Well, and what have 
you seen, you will say, in London ? Why, in the first 
place, Miss More's new play, which fills the house 
very well, and is pretty generally liked. Miss More 
is, I assure you, now very much the ton, and more- 
over has got six or seven hundred pounds by her play : 
I wish I could produce one every two winters ; we 
would not keep school. I cannot say however, that 
I cried altogether so much at Percy, as I laughed at 
the School for Scandal, which is one of the wittiest 
plays I remember to have seen ; and I am sorry to 
add, one of the most immoral and licentious ; — in 
principle I mean, for in language it is ray decent. 
Mrs. Montague, not content with being the queen of 
literature and elegant society, sets up for the queen of 
fashion and splendour. She i> building a very fine 
house, has a very fine service of plate, dresses and 
visits more than ever ; and I am afraid will be full as 
much the woman of the world as the philosopher. 
P.ay, have you read a book to prove FaistafT no 
coward ? I want to know what you think of it : the 
present age deals in paradoxes. A new play of 
Cumberland's, and another bf Home's, are soon to 
come out, Charles's little book is very well, but my 
idea is not executed in it : I must therefore beg you 



CORRESPONDENCE. 11 

will print one as soon as you can, on fine paper, on 
one side only, and more space and a clearer line for 
the chapters. Prefix, if you please, to that you are 
going to print, the following 

ADVERTISEMENT. 

" This little publication was made for a particular 
child, but the public is welcome to the use of it. It 
was found that amidst the multitude of books profes- 
sedly written for children, there is not one adapted to 
the comprehension of a child from two to three years 
old. A grave remark, or a connected story, how 7 ever 
simple, is above his capacity, and nonsense is always 
below it ; for folly is worse than ignorance. Another 
great defect is the want of good paper, a clear and 
large type, and large spaces. Those only who have 
actually taught young children, can be sensible how 
necessary these assistances are. The eye of a child 
and of a learner cannot catch, as ours can, a small, 
obscure, ill-formed word, amidst a number of others 
all equally unknown to him. To supply these defi- 
ciencies is the object of this book. The task is hum- 
ble, but not mean ; for to lay the first stone of a noble 
building, and to plant the first idea in a human mind ? 
can be no dishonour to any hand." 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Palgrave, Jan. 20th, 1779. 

You are a pretty fellow to grom&le, as my mother 
says you do, at my not writing ! Do not you remem- 
ber when you sent a sheet of Charles's book, you 
said you did not mean the line you sent with it for a 
letter, but would write soon ; so that by your own 
confession, you are in debt to me. Charles bore a 



12 CORRESPONDENCE. 

part in our examination, by repeating a copy of vers'es 
on the boy who would not say A, lest he should be 
made to say B : and we, let me tell you, deserve great 
praise for our modesty and self-denial, in not making 
a parade with his Greek, for he could have repeated 
an ode of Anacreon. But notwithstanding this erudi- 
tion, a few English books will still be very acceptable. 
We are just returned from Norwich, where we 
have been so much engaged in dinners and suppers, 
that though I fully intended to write from thence, and 
began a letter, I really could not finish it. The heads 
of all the Norwich people are in a whirl, occasioned 
by the routs which have been introduced amongst 
them this winter ; and such a bustle with writing cards 
a month beforehand, throwing down partitions, mov- 
ing beds, fee. Do you know the different terms ? 
There is a squeeze, a fuss, a drum, a rout ; and lastly, 
a hurricane, when the whole house is full from top to 
bottom. It is a matter of great triumph to me, that 
we enjoy the latter for ten months in the year. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

London, Jan. 2d, 1784. 
Well, my dear brother, here we are in this busy 
town, nothing in w 7 hich (the sight of friends excepted) 
has given us so much pleasure as the balloon which is 
now exhibited in the Pantheon. It is sixteen feet one 
way, and seventeen another ; and when full (which 
it is not at present) will carry eighty-six pounds. 
Wlien set loose from the weight which keeps it to the 
ground, it mounts to the top of that magnificent dome 
with such an easy motion as put me in mind of Mil- 
ton's line, " rose like an exhalation." We hope to see 
it rise in the open air before we leave town. Next to 



CORRESPONDENCE. 13 

the balloon, Miss B. is the object of public curiosity ; 
I had the pleasure of meeting her yesterday. She 
is a very unaffected, modest, sweet and pleasing 
young lady : — but you, now I think of it, are a Goth, 
and have not read Cecilia. Read, read it, for shame ! 
I begin to be giddy with the whirl of London, and to 
feel my spirits flag. There are so many drawbacks, 
from hair-dressers, bad -weather, and fatigue, that it 
requires strong health greatly to enjoy being abroad. 
The enthusiasm for Mrs. Siddons seems something 
abated this winter. As the last season was spent in 
unbounded admiration, this, I suppose, will be employ- 
ed in canvassing her faults, and the third settle her in 
her proper degree of reputation. 



TO DR. AIKISL 

3IY DEAR BROTHER, Palgrave, Jan. 21, 1784. 

We arrived at Palgrave yesterday. I much wished 
to have written again from London ; but I could not 
get further than half a letter, which was therefore 
committed to the flames. Bating the circumstance of 
being greatly hurried, we spent our time very pleasantly 
in London, and had a great deal of most agreeable 
society. Our evenings, particularly at Johnson's, 
were so truly social and lively, that we protracted 

them sometimes till But I am not telling tales. 

Ask at what time we used to separate. Our 

time, indeed, in London was chiefly spent in seeing 
people : for as to seeing sights, constant visiting and 
the very bad weather left us little opportunity for any 
thing of that kind. There is a curious automaton 
which plays at chess. His countenance, they say, 
is very grave and full of thought, and you can hardly 

VOL. II. 2 



14 CORRESPONDENCE. 

help imagining he meditates upon every move. He 
is wound up, however, at every two or three moves. 
The same man has made another figure, which speaks : 
but as his native tongue is French, he stays at home 
at present to learn English. The voice is like that of 
a young child. 

We spent two very agreeable days at Mr. 's. 

We saw there many Americans., members of the 
congress, and plenipos. We were often amused with 
the different sentiments of the several parties in which 
we passed the day. At Mr. Brand Hollis's, the 
nation was ruined ; notwithstanding which, we ate 
our turkey and drank our wine as if nothing had hap- 
pened. In the evening party there was nobody to be 
pitied but the poor king : and w T e criticised none but 
Mrs. Siddons. It is impossible, however, not to be 
kept awake by curiosity, at learning the extraordinary 
manoeuvres and rapid changes that have happened 
lately. Do you know that at two o'clock on the day 
the Parliament met, Mr. Pitt had not received his 
return ; so that Mr. Fox had almost begun the de- 
bates, before Pitt knew he was even a member ! 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Palgrave, May 1784. 
Let me begin with telling you, what you have 
some reason to complain of me for not having told 
you before, that we are very well. Mr. B. has be- 
gun to eat his dinners ; and we smile upon the year, 
as the year begins to smile upon us. We propose 
going to Birmingham this vacation, and we understand 
Oxford and Daventry are in the way ; so that we 
hope a great deal lies before us, to please the eye and 



CORRESPONDENCE. 15 

touch the soul of friendship : but busy must we be 
before we have earned our vacation. 

What do you think of the behaviour of our great 
ladies on the present election ? I thought the news- 
papers had exaggerated : but Mr. says, he him- 
self saw the two Lady -'s and Miss -'s go 

into a low alehouse to canvass, where they staid half 
an hour ; and then, with the mob at their heels offer- 
ing them a thousand indignities, proceed to another. 
These he mentioned as unmarried ladies, and therefore 

less privileged. The Duchess of , Mrs. , 

and many others, equally expose their charms for the 
good of the public. 

Have you got Hoole's Ariosto ? We are reading 
it ; but think the translation, except in a few passages, 
wonderfully flat and prosaic : the adventures are en- 
tertaining, however. 



TO DR AIKIN. 

Dover, Sept 17, 1785, 8 o'clock. 
Fair stood the wind for France— 
When we our sails advance ; 
Nor now to trust our chance 
Longer would tarry .... 

It is not very fair neither, for there is scarcely 
wind enough ; but what there is, is in our favour. 
We are just got here, and a packet sails to-night, so I 
suppose we shall go in a few hours ; for the night is 
the most beautiful, the most brilliant, that ever rivalled 
day. The moon, which is nearly fuD, illuminates the 
majestic chalky cliffs, the stately Castle, and the 
element we are going to trust ourselves to. The 
vi^ws about Dover are very bold and very beautiful. — 
But let me give a regular account of ourselves. From 



18 CORRESPONDENCE. 

London we had the good fortune to take part of a: 
chaise to Dover with Dr. Osborn. He is a most en- 
tertaining, agreeable companion ; and we never had 
a more agreeable journey, especially to-day, for yes- 
terday it was rainy, and we did not get into Rochester 
till nine at night ; consequently lost in a great meas- 
ure the windings of the silver Medway. But to-day 
was uniformly fine ; and greatly delighted we were 
with the view of Chatham, Stroud, and Rochester, 
from a hill just abov r e the town, which we walked up. 
The Medway makes a fine bend here. The hop- 
pickers were at work as we went along, but not with 
their usual alacrity; for the late storm has blasted 
them to such a degree, that twenty thousand pounds 
worth of damage, they say, is done. The country is 
beautifully variegated all the way, and has many fine 
seats ; among which Sir Horace Man's was pointed 
out. From this rich inclosed country you come to 
the open downs, more grand and striking. The first 
view of Dover castle is noble ; and still more finished 
that of the town, which we saw from Dr. O.'s house 
where we dined. It has the castle on one side, hills 
on the other, a valley between (in which is the town,) 
and the sea beyond. I think we shall hardly see more 
beautiful scenes in France. We here took leave of 
our last English friends. — I forgot to say we took a 
hasty peep at the venerable cathedral of Canterbury, 
10 which I would at any time willingly go a pilgrim- 
age — though not barefoot. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 
DEAR BROTHER, Besancon, Oct. 9, 1735. 

I wrote letters from Calais and from Troyes, the 
contents of which have, I hope, been communicated 



CORRESPONDENCE. 17 

to you. From Troyes we proceeded to Dijon by a 
road so delightful, that I strongly wished my sister 
and you could have been with me, — a wish, which I 
cannot help forming, though a vain one, whenever 
any object particularly pleasant presents itself. During 
the greatest part of this road we had the full view of 
the Seine, which we traced upwards to within half a 
league of its source, and saw it grow less and less, 
untwisting, as it were, to a single thread. The valley 
in which it ran was narrow, of a beautiful verdure, 
and bounded by hills of the most gentle ascent, cover- 
ed with trees or herbage : cattle of all sorts, among 
which were several flocks of goats, were feeding in 
sight. The road often ran upon the ascent ; and we 
saw the river, sometimes bordered with trees and 
sometimes fringed with grass or rushes, winding be- 
neath in the most sportive meanders, — for we saw 
and lost it nine times from one spot. The scene was 
in general solitary ; but if we came to a spot particu- 
larly pleasant, it was sure to be marked by a convent, 
the neatness of which, (generally white,) added to 
the beauty of the scene. After we had lost the 
Seine, we came to the Val de Suson, a still more ro- 
mantic place, and very like Middleton Dale, only that 
the rocks were richly covered with trees. Through 
the first part of this valley runs the river Suson 5 the 
rest is still narrower, and between high rocks. 

At Dijon we delivered our first letter of recom- 
mendation, which introduced us to M. de Morveau, a 
man of great merit, who was avocat-general, but has 
quitted his profession for the sake of applying himself 
to philosophical studies, and chiefly chemical. He 
writes all the chemical articles in the New Encyclo- 
pedic. He esteems Dr. Priestley, Dr. Black, and 
Mr. Kirwan, to be the chief men in England in the 
philosophical way. M. de Morveau was one of the 
2* 



18 CORRESPONDENCE. 

first who ascended in a balloon. He showed us their 
Academy, which is one of the first provincial ones. 
The Palais des Etats in Dijon is the finest building 
in it ; the front of it forms one side of a very hand- 
some square, and the wings extend much beyond it. 
It is adorned with statues and paintings by the pupils 
of the drawing-school. From the tower, on which is 
an observatory belonging to this building, is a charm- 
ing view of the country : the hills of Burgundy cov- 
ered with vines; the rivers of Ouche and Suson, 
which encircle the town ; and the town itself, which 
is large though not very populous. In our way from 
Dijon to Dole we saw more of the vintage than we 
had hitherto done, — -and a gay scene it is ; though I 
must confess my disappointment at the first sight of 
the vines, — which are very low, and nothing like so 
beautiful as our apple-trees. They say they have 
more wine this year than they can possibly find ves- 
sels to put it in ; and yet the road was covered with 
teams of casks, empty or full, according as they were 
going out or returning, and drawn by oxen whose 
strong necks seemed to be bowed unwillingly under 
the yoke. Men, women, and children were abroad : 
some cutting with a short sickle the bunches of grapes; 
some breaking them with a wooden instrument ; some 
carrying them on their backs from the gatherers to 
those who pressed the juice ; and, as in our harvest, 
the gleaners followed. From Dole we should have 
gone directly to Besancon, but were induced to strike 
out of the road, to visit the grottes stalactites of Aux- 
celles, to see which we crossed in a ferry the river 
Doux, a fine stream with banks beautifully wooded, 
and got into a place most wild and solitary, through 
such terrible bad roads, that what we thought would 
have been the affair of a few hours, detained us there 
the whole night : the grotto, however, repaid our 



CORRESPONDENCE. 19 

trouble. Had you been there, you would have seen 
it with a more philosophical eye, and have told us 
how the continual dropping of waters through those 
rocks, forms those beautiiul petrifications, which when 
polished, as they sometimes are, have the lustre and 
transparency of crystal. But it required only eyes, 
to be struck with the view of a vast subterranean 
running through a whole rock, which had the appear- 
ance of a most magnificent Gothic church ; — tombs, 
images, drapery, pillars, shrines, all formed without 
much aid from fancy, by nature working alone for 
ages in these long and lofty caverns. We walked in 
it, I believe, about two furlongs, and it might be an- 
other to the end. Besancon is by far the best town 
we have seen ; the streets are long and regular, the 
hotels of the chief inhabitants, palaces for princes, and 
the public buildings noble. But you would have been 
most struck with the hospital, managed in all the in- 
ternal part by those good nuns Les Hospitalieres, with 
such perfect neatness, that in a long chamber contain- 
ing thirty-five beds, most of them full, there was not 
any closeness or smell to be perceived. The beds 
were of white cotton, and by each bed a table and 
chair. Some of the nuns were attending here ; others 
in the dispensary making up medicines ; others in 
the kitchen making broths, tec. : and all this they do 
without salary, and many of them are of good fami- 
lies. 

Noyon, Oct. 13th. — I could not finish my letter 
time enough to send it from Besancon, which gives 
me an opportunity to tell you in brief that we are got 
to within a stage of Geneva, and are now sitting in a 
room which overlooks the delightful lake. We were 
too late last night for Geneva, as they shut the gates 
at half-after-six, and open them for no one. We 
hope to get there this morning, and to receive letters 



20 CORRESPONDENCE. 

from you, which my heart longs for. I have only to 
tell you further, that I have seen the Alps, — a sight 
so majestic, so totally different from any thing I had 
seen before, that I am ready to sing Nunc dimittis. 

Tell me in your next how long you have been sit- 
ting by a coal fire. We have had no fire, but twice 
or three times a little in the evening, since we set 
out ; and in the middle of the day the heat has been 
very strong. I suppose, however, we shall find it 
colder at Geneva. 



And so much in French ; which, though it begins 
to be easier to me, is still to me, either in writing or 
speaking, like using the left hand ; and I now want the 
language the most familiar to me, the most expressive, 
that with less injustice to my feelings, I may thank you 
for your charming letter. It is not necessary for you to 
travel in order to write good verses ; and indeed to say 
truth, in the actual journey many things occur not alto- 
gether so consonant with the fine ideas, one would wish 
to keep upon one's mind. The dirt and bustle of inns, 
and the various circumstances, odd or disgusting, of a 
French diligence, are not made to shine in poetry. 
I shall, however, keep your exhortation in mind ; and 
when, to complete the inspiration, I have drunk of the 
fountain of Vaucluse, which we are going to do, if the 
Muse is not favourable, you may fairly conclude I no 
longer possess her good graces. From Lyons we 
took the diligence oVeau down the Rhone to this place, 
a voyage which in summer, and in a vehicle more 
neat and convenient, would have been delightful. But 
we had incessant rain for two of the days ; and the 
third, though bright, was very cold, with a great deal 
of wind ; so that we did not reach Avignon till the 



CORRESPONDENCE. 21 

morning of the fourth day. The Rhone is rapid all 
the way ; but at Pont St. Esprit particularly so, in- 
somuch that many passengers get out there : we did 
not. The Rhone has high banks all the way, or 
rather is inclosed between hills, covered in many 
places with vines and pasturage, in others pretty bar- 
ren. Near St. Esprit begins the olive country. This 
was the first time we had been in a public voiture ; it 
is a very reputable one, and yet you cannot conceive 
the shabbiness and mal proprete of the boat. 

We are now in a land of vermicelli, soup, and ma- 
caroni, — a land of onions and garlic, — a land flowing 
with oil and wine. Avignon is delightfully situated \ 
the Rhone forms two branches here, and incloses a 
large fertile island. The Durance (another fine river, 
at present so overflowed that it is not passable,) joins 
the Rhone some way below th<? town The churches 
here are numerous, highly adorned, and have several 
good paintings. The streets are darkened with cowls 
and filled with beggars ; drawn here, they say, by the 
strangers, — for the people are no ways oppressed by 
the government, the revenue to the pope hardly 
paying the expenses. We are not yet, however, in 
the climate of perpetual spring ; — like an enchanted 
island, it seems to fly from us. All along the course 
of the Rhone there are cold winds. Lyons is disa- 
greeable in winter, both with fogs and cold. At Ge- 
neva, every body had fires and winter dresses before 
we left it ; and Avignon, though much warmer, is not 
enough so to invite us much abroad, or permit us to 
dispense with fires. To-morrow w r e set off for Orange, 
and from thence shall go to Lisle, perhaps to Mar- 
seilles ; but where we shall spend these next two 
months, we have not yet determined. May you and 
my dear sister spend them with health and pleasure 
in that, dear society, where our hearts perpetually 



22 CORRESPONDENCE. 

carry us, and to which we hope to return with in- 
creased affection ! 

I forgot to tell you that all the people speak patois 
to one another, though they speak French too ; and 
when we landed, the people who came about us to 
carry our things, had absolutely the air of demoniacs, 
with their violent gestures and eager looks, and their 
coarsest exclamations at every second word. 



TO MISS E. BELSHAM, AFTERWARDS MRS. KENRICK. 

Geneva, Oct. 21, 1785. 
My dear Eliza has desired me to write to her dur- 
ing our tour. She could not have put me upon an 
employment more agreeable to myself, for I am con- 
tinually wishing thnsp 1 Wp in England could share 
the pleasure we receive, by the new bcenes and ob- 
jects which are continually passing before our eyes ; 
and chough I can give you but a very inadequate idea 
of them, it will be without any drawback from fatigue, 
bad inns, dirt, and various other &c's which may be 
put on the opposite side when the travelling account is 
balanced. We landed at Calais, Sept. 18th, and you 
may wonder that we have as yet only reached Gene- 
va ; but Mr. B. from kind regard to my health, and 
indeed the convenience of us both, thought it best to 
make short stages ; besides which, we have stopped 
wherever there were churches or fine things to be 
seen. One very agreeable ornament of the towns 
abroad, which in England we are strangers to, is their 
fountains, the more pleasing as they connect public 
utility with a degree of magnificence. They excel 
us likewise in public walks, and in every fortified town 
the ramparts alone afford very fine ones. 

We find ourselves very happy at Geneva ; and if 



CORRESPONDENCE. 23 

the season was not so far advanced, should like to 
spend a month or two here : indeed we have been 
singularly fortunate, for Mr. B. has found out a family 
of relations here, of the name of Rochemont, very 
amiable and respectable people ; and the society here 
in general seems easy, sprightly, and literary. English 
is much understood, and very tolerably spoken by 
many. The town is still divided into parties, and one 
side will tell you that Geneva is no longer what it 
was, that it has lost its liberty, and every thing worth 
living for ; and thus far is true, that the government 
is become entirely aristocratical, and is at present so 
strict, that half a dozen people cannot have a weekly 
meeting at each other's houses, unless they choose to 
declare they keep an open tavern. The situation of 
Geneva, as you well know, is delightful. I am just 
returned from an excursion to the mountain of Saleve, 
within a league of the town ; from whence on one 
side you have a view of Geneva, with its lake of the 
purest blue, a large plain between the chain of Mount 
Jura and that of the Alps, cultivated like a parterre, 
and full of villages, country houses and farms, water- 
ed by the Arve, which meanders through it in the 
most sportive manner, making several islands, and 
beyond Geneva falls into the Rhone. The vintage is 
not here got in, so that the vineyards are still in their 
beauty. On the other side Saleve, the mountains 
open upon you in all their grandeur. Mr. B. is gone 
to the Glaciers, to feast his eyes with a nearer view 
of these stupendous mountains ; but I thought the ex- 
pedition beyond my strength, and I am during his 
absence in a family of Genevois, who are very good 
kind of people. 

Will you hear how they pass the Sunday at Gene- 
va ? They have service at seven in the morning, at 
nine, and at two \ after that they assemble in parties 



24 CORRESPONDENCE. 

for conversation, cards, and dancing, and finish the 
day at the theatre. Did not you think they had been 
stricter at Geneva, than to have plays on the Sunday, 
especially as it is but two or three years since they 
were allowed at all ? The service at their churches 
is seldom much more than an hour, and I believe few 
people go more than once a day. As soon as the 
text is named, the minister puts on his hat, in which 
he is followed by all the congregation, except those 
whose hats and heads have never had any connexion ; 
for you well know that to put his hat upon his head, 
is the last use a well-dressed Frenchman would think 
of putting it to. At proper periods of the discourse, 
the minister stops short, and turns his back to you, in 
order to blow his nose, which is a signal for all the 
congregation to do the same ; and a glorious concert 
it is, for the weather is already severe, and people 
have got colds. I am told, too, that he takes this 
time to refresh his memory by peeping at his sermon, 
which lies behind him in the pulpit. 

Nobody ought to be too old to improve : I should 
be sorry if I was ; and I flatter myself I have already 
improved considerably by my travels. First, I can 
swallow gruel soup, egg soup, and all manner of soups, 
without making faces much. Secondly, I can pretty 
well live without tea ; they give it, however, at Ge- 
neva. Thirdly, I am less and less shocked, and hope 
in time I shall be quite easy at seeing gentlemen, per- 
haps perfect strangers, enter my room without cere- 
mony when I am in my bedgown. I would not have 
you think, however, I am in danger of losing my 
modesty ; for if I am no longer affected at some 
things, I have learned to blush at others ; and I will 
tell you, as a friend, that I believe there is but one 
indecency in France, which is, for a man and his wife 
to have the same sleeping-room. " Est ce votre cham- 



CORRESPONDENCE. 25 

bre, madame, ou celle de M. votre epoux ? " said a 
lady to me the other day. I protest I felt quite out of 
countenance to think we had but one. 

It is time to leave Geneva, for I see from my win- 
dow the tops of Mount Jura, which are already cov- 
ered with snow ; and we have had a vent de Use so 
severe, that I have been confined to my chamber, it 
is now the sixth day, with a very painful swelled 
face. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Marseilles, Dec. 1785. 
Health to you all — poor mortals as you are, 
crowding round your coal fires, shivering in your 
nicely closed apartments, and listening with shiver- 
ing hearts to the wind and snow which beats dark 
December ! The months here have indeed the same 
names, but far different are their aspects ; for here I 
am sitting without a fire, the windows open, and 
breathing an air as perfectly soft and balmy as in our 
warmest days of May ; yet the sun does not shine. 
On the day we arrived here, the 5th of December, it 
did ; and with as much splendour and warmth, and 
the sky was as clear and of as bright a blue, as in our 
finest summer days. The fields are full of lavender, 
thyme, mint, rosemary, &c. ; the young corn is above 
half a foot high : they have not much indeed in this 
neighbourhood, but from Orange to Lisle w r e saw a 
good deal. The trees which are not evergreens have 
mostly lost their leaves ; but one sees every where 
the pale verdure of the olives, mixed with here and 
there a grove, or perhaps a single tree, of cypress, 
shooting up its graceful spire of a deeper and more 
lively green, far above the heads of its humbler but 
more profitable neighbours. The markets abound 

VOL. II. 3 



26 



CORRESPONDExMCE. 



with fresh and dried grapes, pomegranates, oranges 
with the green leaves, apples, pears, dried figs, and 
almonds. They reap the corn here the latter end of 
May or the beginning of June. The gathering of the 
olives is not yet finished : it yields to this country its 
richest harvest. There are likewise a vast number of 
mulberry-trees, and the road in many places is bor- 
dered with them ; but they are perfectly naked at 
present. Marseilles is, however, not without bad 
weather. The vent de bise, they say, is penetrating ; 
and for this last fortnight they have tiad prodigious 
rains, with the interruption of only a few days ; so 
that the streets are very dirty and the roads broken up. 
But they say this is very extraordinary, and that if 
they pass two days without seeing a bright sun they 
think Nature is dealing very hardly with them. I 
will not, however, boast too much over you from 
these advantages ; for I am ready to confess the 
account may be balanced by many inconveniences, 
little and great, which attend this favoured country. 
And thus I state my account. 

Advantages of Travelling, 
A July sun and a southern breeze. 



Figs, almonds, &c. &c. 

Sweet scents in the fields. 
Grapes and raisins. 
Coffee as cheap as milk. 
Wine a demi-sous the bottle. 

Provencal songs and laughter. 

Soup, salad and oil. 

Arcs of triumph, fine churches, 

stately palaces. 
A pleasant and varied country. 



Per Contra. 
Plies, fleas, and all Pharaoh's 

plague of vermin. 
No tea, and the very name of 

a tea-kettle unknown. 
Bad scents within doors. 
No plum-pudding. 
Milk as dear as coffee. 
Bread three sous the half-penny 

roll. 
Provencal roughness and scold- 
ing. 
No beef, no butter. 
Dirty inns, heavy roads, uneasy 

carriages. 
But many, many a league froir. 

those we love. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 27 

From Avignon (whence I wrote to you last) we 
went to Orange, where we were gratified with the 
sight of an arc of triumph entire, of rich architec- 
ture ; and though the delicacy of the sculpture is 
much defaced by time, it is easy to see what it must 
have been when fresh. There is likewise a noble 
ruin of an amphitheatre built against a rock, of which 
you may trace the whole extent, though the area is 
filled with cottages. These were the first remains of 
antiquity of any consequence I had seen, and they 
impressed me with an idea of Roman grandeur. 
Orange is a poor town, but the country is green and 
pleasant, and they have all country houses. When 
the principality came under French government, it 
was promised that they should have no fresh taxes 
imposed ; but peu a peu, say they, taxes are come. 
They had salt springs which more than supplied them 
with that article ; — they are forbidden to work them. 
They grew tobacco ; — now, if any one has more than 
three plants in his garden, he is punished. From 
Orange we went to Lisle. In the way we stopped 
at Carpentras, where we were shown another arc 
of triumph, over which a cardinal, the bishop of 
Carpentras, built his kitchen ; very wisely judging 
that nothing was more worthy to enter through an 
arc of triumph, than a noble haunch of venison or 
an exquisite ragoo. Lisle is a small town, very 
pleasant in summer, because it is surrounded with 
water ; and still more noted for its neighbourhood 
to the source of that water, the celebrated fountain 
of Vaucluse. 

During the few fair days we have had, the warmth 
and power of the sun has been equal to our summer 
days : it is truly delightful to feel such a sun in 
December ; to be able to saunter by the shore of the 
Mediterranean, or sit on the bank and enjoy the pros- 



28 CORRESPONDENCE. 

pect of an extensive open sea, smooth and calm as a 
large lake. It is likewise very pleasant to gain an 
hour more of daylight upon these short days. How- 
ever, though the middle of the day is so warm, in the 
mornings and evenings a fire is acceptable, I must 
confess. 

The Marseillians value themselves upon being a 
kind of republic, and their port is free : the lower 
rank are bold and rude ; the upper, by what I hear, 
very corrupt in their manners. There are 30,000 
Protestants : their place of worship is a country house, 
which they have hired of the commandant himself. 
They meet with no molestation, and hope from the 
temper of the times that they shall ere long have 
leave to build a church. The minister is an agree- 
able and literary man, and is very obliging towards us ; 
his wife has been six years in England, and speaks 
English well. Her family fled there from persecu- 
tion ; for her grandfather, (who was a minister) was 
seized as he came out from a church where he had 
been officiating, by the soldiers. His son, who had 
fled along with the crowd and gained an eminence at 
some distance, seeing they had laid hold on his father, 
came and offered himself in his stead ; and in his 
stead was sent to the galleys, where he continued 
seven years. Uhonnete Criminal is founded on this 
fact. Besides this family we have hardly any ac- 
quaintance here, nor are like to have. We have, 
however, been tw r o or three times with the Chanoines 
de St. Victor, who are all of the best families of 
France, as they must prove their nobility for 150 
years. They are very polite and hospitable, and far 
enough from bigots ; for we were surprised to find 
how freely to us they censured auricular confession, 
the celibacy of the clergy, and laughed at some of 
their legendary miracles. I forgot to say that the 



CORRESPONDENCE. 29 

country about Marseilles is covered with country- 
houses ; they reckon 10,000. They were first begun 
to be built on account of the plague : every body has 
one. There is a fine picture of the terrible plague 
here at the Consigne, and another at the Town-house. 
They are very exact at present in their precautions. 
I am sure the plague cannot be occasioned merely by 
want of cleanliness, for then Marseilles could not 
escape. 

Remember that we are longing for letters, and that 
new T s from you will be more grateful to us, than groves 
of oranges or Provencal skies. 



Aix, Feb. 9, 1786. 
* * * * * * * 

With regard to ourselves, we have at length quit- 
ted Marseilles ; w T here, to confess the truth, we stay- 
ed long enough to be pretty well tired of it ; for we 
had scarce any acquaintance, and no amusements 
(the Play excepted), but what we could procure to 
ourselves by reading or walking.. Some delightful 
walks we did take under a bright sun and a clear blue 
sky, which would have done honour to the fairest 
months in the English calendar. We sailed one fine 
day to the little chateau d' If, a league from the port. 
It is used as a prison for extravagant or disorderly 
young men, whom their parents get shut up here — 
sometimes to avoid the disgrace of a more public 
punishment. We had a great pleasure at Marseilles 
in seeing your friend Mr. Howard : he was well, and 
in good spirits. He w T ent by the name of the English 
Doctor, and as such has prescribed, he told us, with 
tolerable success. If you have a mind to strike a 
good stroke in London, introduce magnetism ; 5 t is in 
3* 



30 CORRESPONDENCE. 

France the folly of the day. There is a society at 
Marseilles for that purpose composed of gentlemen. 
They boast they can lay asleep, when they please, 
and for as long as they please ; and that during this 
sleep or trance, the mind can see the operations going 
forward in the corporeal machine, and predict future 
events. One of them offered to try his skill on Mr. 
Barbauld ; but after a long and unpleasant operation 
of rubbing the temples and forehead, he was obliged 
to desist without success. Mr. Howard will tell you, 
however, they operate better at Lyons, as he saw 
"several women at the hospital put to sleep in a minute 
by only passing the hand over their forehead. 

At Marseilles we again bought a carriage (an Eng- 
lish chaise), in which we hope to perform the rest of 
our journey, at least to Paris. The road from Mar- 
seilles to Toulon is over mountains, which, though not 
very high, are the beginning of the Alps. They are, 
in many parts, quite naked and craggy ; in others, 
covered with forests of pines ! and in many, they have 
had the industry to make terraces one over another 
to the very top, on which they have planted vines, 
though the culture must demand prodigious labour, 
for they must bring all the earth. The almond trees, 
which are now in full flower, scattered here and there, 
embellish the scene. At Toulon we saw the arsenal, 
which contains the corderie, the salle d'armes, the 
naval stores, k,c. There is something horrible in the 
clanking of the chains of the galley-slaves, who are 
chained two-and-two, and employed in various works 
within the place. Three or four galleys lie in the 
harbour, but they are not used except for lodging the 
forpats. From Toulon we went to Hieres ; — and 
how, think ycu, did we go ? On foot every step of the 
way, and it is nine miles at least. We went on foot 
because the roads are still so bad we dared not ven- 



CORRESPONDENCE. 31 

ture in a carriage. Hieres is a specimen of the Italian 
climate and Italian productions : to the south it is 
open to the sea ; every other quarter is fenced with 
hills. The town lies on the descent of a hill, and is 
surrounded with groves of orange arid lemon trees, 
glowing in the brightest beauty, and with all the 
variety of colour, from the- palest lemon to the deep 
and almost blood-red species of orange. The leaves, 
of a vivid green, give a relief to the fruit, which is in 
so great an abundance that I have hardly seen apple- 
trees so full. It is a delicious spot, quite the gardens 
of the Hesperides, and enjoys a constant verdure. 
The hedges are composed of myrtle, holm-oak, and 
lentisk, of the ashes of which latter they make a lye, 
with which they preserve their raisins. They gather 
green peas soon after Christmas : every month brings 
its peculiar harvest. Besides the corn, wine, and oil, 
which they share in common with their neighbours, 
they have vast quantities of strawberries, peaches, 
kidney-beans, all kinds of fruit and garden stuff. 
Sweet waters and essences are distilled from the 
orange flowers, and the peel of the bergamot, the 
cedrat, and some other kinds valuable for their fra- 
grance. Some of the orange gardens are worth from 
twenty to twenty-six thousand livres a year. From 
an opposite hill there is a view of the town ; above it, 
a convent of Bernardines, and higher still, the ruined 
walls and castle of the old town ; the w T hole surround- 
ed with a bright circle of green and gold, and houses 
of a shining white in the midst of the orange gardens ; 
further, the paler green of the olives ; to the south, 
the sea, and the fishery salt-works ; and opposite, 
the islands of Hieres, where is plenty of game. 
Winter is seen peeping at this little paradise from 
the top of a distant mountain covered with snow ; and 
sometimes, indeed, he sends a hoar frost — after which, 
the oranges drop by hundreds from the trees. 



32 CORRESPONDENCE. 

To complete our expedition and vary the mode of 
travelling, we returned as follows : I upon the bourique 
of a paisanne, between two loaded panniers, Mr. B. 
walking before ; and the woman, a stout, sunburnt, 
cheerful Provencal, by the side of the ass, driving, 
guiding, and hallooing it onward. Bread and figs, 
which we put in the pannier and ate as w T e went along, 
were our breakfast. I rode thus tw T o leagues, and 
walked with Mr. B. the third. And now, having 
touched the utmost limit of our long tour, it is with 
inexpressible pleasure we reflect, that every step we 
shall for the future take will bring us nearer again to 
those dear friends, in whose society we hope to spend 
the rest of our life. We propose returning by Nismes, 
Montpelier, and Bourdeaux. Aix is a clean, pretty 
town : the baths and the fountains of hot water are 
worth seeing. It is full of clergy and men of the 
law. We got acquainted with two gentlemen (an 
officer and an ecclesiastic), who were very civil to us ; 
but we could not help being diverted with the eager- 
ness with which they recited their own verses (for 
they were both versifiers), their gestures, their com- 
pliments to each other, and their total freedom from 
that awkward bashfulness which hangs on us English, 
when we have written something clever that we long 
to bring into notice, and do not know how to bring it 
about. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Thoulouse, Feb. 27, 1786. 

I begin this letter from Thoulouse, though I shall 

propably not finish it before w T e get to Bourdeaux. — 

We got here last night, and hoped to have walked 

about the town to-day, w T here they say there is a 



CORRESPONDENCE. 33 

good deal to be seen ; but we are confined to our 
room by a pretty heavy fall of snow, which has con- 
tinued the whole day. We are at present convinced 
that it is a vain expectation to escape from winter by 
going to the southern climates,— at Bengal I suppose 
it may be done : but the southern provinces of France 
differ more in the duration than in the degree of their 
winter ; and beyond all doubt they have more sudden 
and violent changes of weather than we have. In 
consequence they dress warmer than we do. The 
pelisse, the muff, the fur* gloves and shoes, the hussar 
cloak and flannel linings, are all common here, and 
found necessary. Yet it is also true that through a 
great part of the winter they enjoy the most delicious 
weather ; and that with regard to one or other of 
their productions, there is not any time of the year in 
which you do not meet with harvest or blossoms ; for 
before the gathering of olives is over, the almond-tree 
is in flower. Till within these four days we have had 
fine weather for a long time ; and Lower Languedoc, 
through which our route has lain since we crossed the 
Rhone, has worn all the lovely features of spring. 
At Pezenas (the last place where we made any stay) 
the peach, apricot, and bean were beginning to blos- 
som ; the gardens were all green with various vege- 
tables, the fields with corn, and a few trees were even 
in leaf. But their springs are apt to be premature. 
Here (in Upper Languedoc) it is colder. 

Gratified as we have been by the spring of Nature, 
we have been no less so by the hoary ruins of Anti- 
quity. The vast cirque of the amphitheatre at Nis- 
mes fills the mind with an amazing idea of Roman 
greatness. It is defaced by a number of buildings in 
the area ; which, however, are to be demolished, and 
the venerable ruin kept in better repair. To repair 
a ruin, carries a better sound with it than to build a 



34 CORRESPONDENCE. 

ruin, as we do in England. La maison Carree is a 
bijou ; it has all that the utmost delicacy and richness 
of architecture can give. But we prefer to them both, 
the Pont du Gard. 

Nismes is the very centre of the Protestants. 
They are computed to be 30,000, and the richest 
part of the inhabitants : for here, as the Dissenters in 
England, they give themselves to trade. They have 
no church, nor even barn ; but assemble in the desert, 
as they call it, in the open air, in a place surrounded 
by rocks which reverberate the voice. The pulpit is 
moveable, and there are a few seats of stone for the 
elders. On their great festivals, they say, the sight is 
very striking. 

I wish you, who have a quarrel to some of our 
English axioms of taste in gardening, could see the 
public walks of Nismes and Montpelier ; both, (espe- 
cially the latter) laid out with great magnificence, 
but quite in the old style of terraces, fountains, straight 
alleys, and exact symmetry : but the whole is great, and 
was to me very new. We intended to have taken 
the canal at Beziers, but the bad w T eather prevented 
us. From Narbonne till near Thoulouse we had on 
our left a long chain of mountains, the Pyrenees. I 
love to see those everlasting boundaries of nations. 
We had not, however, any wish to cross them and try 
the Spanish accommodations — there are difficulties 
enow of that kind in France. This is the height of 
the Carnival, and we have seen as we came along, 
the dance on the green, and the masque by torch- 
light ; but in general I am afraid there is a good deal 
of coarseness in the mirth of the vulgar, and of licen- 
tiousness in the gaiety of the rich. From Narbonne 
to Thoulouse there are a great many chatcaus, pom- 
pous buildings with towers, but no ornamented grounds 
about them as in England, nor any thing in the 



CORRESPONDENCE. 35 

avenues, hedges, &c. that has a look of neatness. I 
fancy the rats hold a glorious sabat in some of them. — 
1 should tell you that at Montpelier we saw the ana- 
tomical theatre, where they have two hundred students, 
who shave and dress hair, to pay their board and lodg- 
ing, and attend dissections and study surgery with 
great application the rest of -their time : and they say 
they make a better progress than those that have 
money. I am sorry I cannot send you a slip of 
Rabelais' scarlet gown, with which sacred relique the 
students are invested when they take their degrees. 
The meaning of which I take to be this, — that laugh- 
ing may cure you when physic would miss. 

The situation of Thoulouse seems calculated for 
trade, as the noble canal of Languedoc meets there 
the still more noble river of the Garonne : yet it is 
not commercial, as the great ambition of all the rich 
inhabitants is directed towards gaining a seat in par- 
liament, which ennobles them ; and then they leave 
trade. You may guess with what feelings we saw 
the seat of that parliament which condemned Calas. 
The spirit of the times, however, thank Heaven ! is 
greatly altered. 

Boardeaiix, March 3. — We arrived here to-day. 
The road from Thoulouse to this towTi is remarkably 
pleasant. It lies mostly along the banks of the Garonne, 
and several fine rivers which fall into it ; the Tarne, 
the Aveyron, &c. On the other side is a ridge of 
hilly ground quite sandy, covered with vines, which 
indeed -have a most desolate appearance at this time 
of the"' year ; but fancy can spread the foliage and 
change the purple clusters. On the river-side are fine 
rich valleys covered with corn, and here and there 
pasture ground : — no more olives, but groves of oak ; 
no more almond-blossoms, but hedges of hawthorn. 
On Shrove Tuesday (which was a remarkably fine 



36 CORRESPONDENCE. 

day) every town and every village was poured out 
upon the road, all dressed, and dancing each lad with 
his lass. What I should not have supposed, they 
dance too on Ash Wednesday ; for though the church- 
es were pretty full in the morning, of dismal-looking 
figures in black hoods, who came to confess the sins 
of the Carnival, the greater part put the English in- 
terpretation upon a holy day, and considered it as a 
holiday. Though we have not yet seen much of 
Bourdeaux, a walk this afternoon has convinced us, it 
is a more magnificent town than any we have yet 
seen in France. It happens too to be the fair. 



The road from Tours to Orleans on the 

winding banks of the Loire, is delightfully pleasant ; 
but we had not fine weather enough to enjoy all its 
beauty ; for we have had the second winter you speak 
of, in all its severity of snow and frost. We were 
particularly pleased, however, with Tours. It has 
one street of more complete beauty than any street I 
have yet seen, terminated at one end, by a fine bridge 
over the Loire, at the other, by one of the noblest 
malls in the kingdom. Blois is delightful from its 
situation, and interesting from the events which have 
taken place within its now deserted walls. Orleans 
is entirely a town of commerce ; and it seems to 
flourish, for they live remarkably well there. Trade 
may have been despised formerly in France ; but I 
am sure it cannot, now there are such towns as Lyons, 
Bourdeaux, and Orleans, where it displays its effects 
in all the pride of opulence. We have been now a 
month in Paris, and here the objects of curiosity 
crowd upon us. In the provinces, they are scattered 
here and there ; but in the capital, — palaces, pictures, 



CORRESPONDE^X , E. 3? 

statues, public gardens, meet you at every step, and 
all the powers of observation and organs of perception 
are agreeably filled. The societies of Paris do not 
obtrude themselves in like manner on your notice ; on 
the contrary, it is pretty difficult to get sufficiently 
into them to judge of their complexion and character. 
We shall have been, however, in a few of them, and 
shall have seen many agreeable individuals. English 
is very much studied here at present : there are a 
great many who read, and some who talk it. Every- 
thing of English fabric and workmanship is preferred 
here, and not without reason. They have an idea 
here very contrary to ours ; for they say, The English 
invent, and the French bring to perfection. They are 
going to inclose all Paris and its suburbs by an im- 
mense wall : it puts one in mind of hedging in the 
cuckoo ; but it is to prevent smuggling. We have 
had the good fortune to get very clean lodgings : they 
are near the Pont Royal and the Tuilleries, both 
which we often cross, and never without fresh admi- 
ration at the number of beautiful buildings and gay 
objects. I like the gardens of the Tuilleries better 
than our St. James's Park ; for though they are some- 
what disgraced by the old-fashioned parterre, yet on 
the whole they are more gay, more lively : the view 
from the terrace commands a greater variety of ob- 
jects ; the Tuilleries is more adorned ; and the various 
groups of all ranks, — some taking lemonade, some 
sitting on the grass, some even reading, — give an air 
of ease and enjoyment more than is to be seen in our 
Park. This is rather an unfortunate time for seeing 
paintings, as the king's pictures are all taken down in 
order to be arranged and put up in the gallery of the 
Louvre, which is preparing for their reception : and 
when that fine building is filled with so noble a collec- 
tion, it will have few things in Europe superior. 

VOL. II. 4 



38 CORRESPONDENCE. 

One great advantage which Paris has as a towii 
over London is its quais, by which means they enjoy 
their river and the fine buildings upon it. As to the 
streets, most of them are certainly narrow, but not 
absolutely impracticable to the poor pieton, as I had 
been taught to believe ; for when not dressed, I walk 
about a good deal. They say, however, a great 
many accidents happen, which their boasted police 
takes more care to stifle than to prevent : if a man is 
run over by a coach, they dare not put it in any pub- 
lic papers. The streets are full of little cabriolets, 
which drive very fast : they are forbidden, but people 
have them notwithstanding. We have been at two of 
their Academies, that of Sciences, and that of Belles- 
lettres. Several eloges were read, well drawn up ; 
prizes proposed, &c. They clap hands as at the 
play-house, when a sentiment or expression pleases 
them. The theatre sinks in France as well as 
England ; for as Mrs. Siddons stands alone, we may 
well say it sinks. They are building a very fine 
church, St. Genevieve ; and in general there is a 
good deal of new building, as well as in London. We 
have yet a vast deal to see ; but we shall see it as 
fast as we can, that we may return to those friends 
who will be only dearer to us from absence. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Carcasonne, Feb. 15, 1786, 
If at any time, and in any place, a letter from my 
dear Mrs. Beecroft has always given me a sensible 
pleasure, she will judge how grateful it must have 
been to my heart to be remembered by her with so 
much kindness and affection, and to be informed of 
her welfare, when the long absence, when the tracts 



CORRESPONDENCE. 39 

of land and seas between us and those most dear to 
our hearts, render accounts from England doubly 
interesting. And indeed when* I reflect that I am 
transported from the banks of the Waveney to the 
shores of the Mediterranean, I am ready to cry out 
with Simkin, 

M Me thinks we 're a wonderful distance from home." 

The scenes we have passed through, gratify curiosity 
and fill the imagination ; but you, my dear friend, in 
the mean time have found yourself in situations which 
awaken feelings the most tender and interesting 

May you experience, may you feel, all 

the sympathies, all the tender charities of every rela- 
tion, all of which you are so fitted to adorn ! 

The ladies of this country, if I may trust what 
their own countrymen say of them, are not fond of 
these domestic ties ; they wish not to be mothers of 
a numerous offspring : and their husbands, whose 
claim to the honour is somewhat more dubious, are 
still less flattered with being fathers to them. But 
let me give you some account of our route. From 
Calais we coasted, as I may say, the rich plains of 
Flanders and Artois, which however had lost their 
peculiar beauty, as the harvest was got in. We pass- 
ed through a part of Haute Picardie, and leaving 
Paris on our right, advanced into Champagne, where 
we first saw the production that most distinguishes 
the climate of France from ours, — the boasted vine- 
yards. Having visited the venerable cathedral of 
Rheims, we crossed several pleasant streams, and 
from Troyes traced the delightful windings of the 
Seine to its very source. We next visited Dijon in 
the midst of the vine-clad hills of Burgundy, and from 
thence, crossing the Saone, struck intoFranchecomte ; 
and from Dole to Besancon travelled along the banks 



40 CORRESPONDENCE. 

of the Doux, a fine, full stream, through a country 
more varied and rich with prospects than we had yet 
-een. From varied', the country became romantic, 
and from hilly, mountainous ; Nature preparing, as it 
were, for her more majestic scenes, till at length she 
swells into full grandeur ; and from the heights of 
Mount Jura the Alps are discovered to the astonished 
i raveller. 

At Geneva we were greatly delighted with the 
>ociety and the situation ; but the winter advanced 
?o fast upon us, that we w r ere obliged to abandon our 
design of visiting Switzerland. From Geneva to 
Lyons we were still in the midst of les belles horreurs, 
^teep mountains, cascades, and lakes. At Lyons the 
winter was still at our heels, so down the rapid Rhone 
we sailed in search of the climate of perpetual spring, 
hut like some enchanted island it seemed to fly from 
our pursuit. At Lyons it was the vent du Rhone, at 
Avignon la bise, at Marseilles the mistral — which 
opposed our wishes ; till at length, in the orange 
groves of Hieres, we found the most delicious tem- 
perature of air and a verdure perpetually flourishing. 
But long before we reached Hieres, between Lyons 
and Avignon, we got amongst the olive-grounds, the 
figs, the almonds, and pomegranates, which spread 
over all Provence and Languedoc. But they have 
not here the green pasture, the lowing herd, the haw- 
thorn hedge, the haunt of birds, nor the various family 
of lofty trees which give us shade in summer and 
shelter in winter. As we have been chiefly at inns 
hitherto, I cannot say a great deal of the inhabitants 
in general : that they are more lively and eager in 
their gestures and manner than the English is evident ; 
but as to that great air of gaiety you mention, and 
which one naturally expects to find in France, it has 
not struck us ; perhaps it might if we were more in- 



CORRESPONDENCE. 41 

timately admitted into their families, and saw the 
young and the gay ; but this I can assure you, they 
are not to be found, even in Provence, singing and 
dancing under every green tree. We have lately 
visited Nismes, a place interesting by its antiquities. 
La Maison Carree is the most delicate and finished 
piece of architecture that can be conceived ; and the 
amphitheatre gives the most striking idea of Roman 
greatness. It is calculated to hold 18,000 people ; 
its vast cirque cannot be beheld from a distance 
without astonishment, — all the other buildings sink in- 
to nothing before it. An antiquity perhaps more 
beautiful still than either of them is the Font du Gard, 
some leagues from Nismes, constructed to convey 
water to the town. It looks great as if made by the 
hands of the giants, and light as if wrought by fairies. 
Nismes has likewise a more modern work, of which 
they boast much, — the fountain and walks belonging 
to ito This, as well as the Place de Perou at Mont- 
pelier, is laid out in a style which a Brown or a Shen- 
stone would but little approve ; long strait walks, trees 
cut into form, water stagnating in stone basons and 
exactly symmetrized. All this suits but ill with what 
we have been taught to call taste ; yet there is an 
air of magnificence, and even of gaiety, that in its 
kind gives pleasure. The very exhibition of art and 
expense gives an air of grandeur. Its being a work 
made by men, suggests the cheerful idea that it was 
made /or men ; whereas our more rustic scenes seem 
made, if not for melancholy, at least for solitary mus- 
ing : and in the last place, the exact proportion con- 
trasts it with the surrounding country. 

You know, probably, that Montpelier is famous 
for perfumes. One man, who has got a large fortune 
by them, has planted a garden with rosetrees, several 
4* " 



4:2 CORRESPONDENCE. 

thousands in number, which in summer perfume the 
air to a considerable distance. 

I hoped to have finished this letter where I began 
it, at Montpelier ; but not having been able to do it, 
gives me an opportunity to tell you, that we have 
seen at Pesenas an echantiUon of the diversions of the 
Carnival. The young men of the town, with the 
young ladies, masked, followed by the paysans and 
paysannes, danced by torch-light in the streets, upon 
the esplanade, and all round the town, to the music of 
the drum and fife, followed by a number of spectators 
of all ranks, all enjoying the cheerful scene. Pesenas 
is a delightful place ; the peach and apricot already 
are in blossom there, so is the bean ; numbers of 
almond-trees are in full bloom ; various shrubs are 
green with spring, and some trees begin to put out. 
To crown all, we found there a very lovely English- 
woman, with whom and her husband we spent two 
pleasant days. We are now going to Bourdeaux, and 
so to Orleans and Paris ; after w T hich I am sure we 
shall long to return home. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Paris, June 7, 1786. 

The affair of Cardinal Rohan, which has 

so much engrossed the talk at Paris, is at length de- 
cided : but we have not been able to see, without in- 
dignation, the decisions of the Parliament altered in 
almost every instance by the pleasure of the king ; so 
that judicial proceedings are mere child's play in this 
country. A grocer has got himself into the Bastille 
by waiting a pamphlet on this occasion ; in which he 
insinuates that the queen herself was in the plot, and 
that Madame Oliva was t&e cloud by means of which 



CORRESPONDENCE. 43 

she played the fable of Ixion on the poor Cardinal. 
In short, people's conjectures are as much afloat since 
the decision as before. The king of Prussia is re- 
ported to have said, " Qu'il falloit que le Cardinal 
montrat beaucoup d'esprit pour prouver qu'il n'avoit 
ete que bete." Among the long list of titles which 
figure at the head of his Memoir e, that of Academi- 
cien is not found : the reason, they say, is, that his 
avocat, at the request of the Academy, (who feared 
they might be disgraced by the fellowship of such an 
associate,) persuaded him to leave it out, by telling 
him that, for the other titles, they implied no parts ; 
but that of Academicien — supposing a man of superior 
genius and knowledge — might hurt him in his trial, 
as his only defence must rest on his proving himself 
un imbecille. — And so much for the Cardinal. 

We w r ere the other day at the Museum, a place 
lately set up, intended as a repository for works of 
art 5 likewise as a centre of communication w 7 ith the 
learned in any part of Europe, who, by corresponding 
with M. de la Blancherie, may have their discoveries 
published or their questions answ r ered, if possible to 
answer them : nay, I believe I need not have put in 
that restriction, for a Frenchman is never at a loss to 
answer any question. The plan seems good : but I 
was greatly diverted with the following question, pub- 
lished in one of their weekly papers ; " Whether the 
societies called Clubs in England, and now imitated 
in Paris, might not tend to render their members 
morose and taciturnes ; since by the laws of such 
meetings only one person must speak at a time, and 
that only for a certain number of minutes?" An 
author may read his piece at this Museum ; but as 
the doors are not locked, it may chance that the com- 
pany slip away one by one and leave him alone, as I 
suspect might be the case with a young novel-writer, 



44 CORRESPONDENCE. 

whom we in like manner escaped from there the other 
day. By the way, I have found out the reason why 
the French have so little poetry : it is because every 
body makes verses. 

We have been at Versailles and St. Cloud : the 
latter is now fitting up for the queen. The situation 
is far more delightful than Versailles ; but that, by 
force of expense, has a magnificence which no palace 
I have seen can compare with. We saw it on Whit- 
sunday, when the waters play. The environs of Paris 
are now very pleasant ; and they are very animated, 
without being, I think, quite so crowded as those of 
London. They do not make hay here till St. John's 
day, (the 24th of June,) which I think is later than 
near London ; yet the weather has been very hot. 

I was recommended to an English nun ; and after 
going to see her twice, she had the goodness to send 
a parcel of books to convert me : so you see there is 
some zeal left in the female convents at least : as to 
the priests and monks, I believe they have very little 
indeed. 



TO MRS. J. TAYLOR. 
DEAR MADAM, Paris, June 7, 1786. 

Though we expect now very soon to finish our 
long pilgrimage, I cannot quit this country without 
giving you a little testimonial that in it we think of 
those beloved English friends from whom the sea now 
divides us : they are often recalled to my mind by 
different and opposite trains of thinking — for contrast, 
you know, is one source of association ; and when I 
see the Parisian ladies covered with rouge and en- 
slaved by fashion, cold to the claims of maternal 
tenderness, and covering licentiousness with the thin 
veil of a certain factitious decency of manners, my 



CORRESPONDENCE. 45 

thoughts turn away from the scene, and delight to 
contemplate the charming union formed by deep 
affection and lasting esteem, — the mother endowed 
with talents and graces to draw the attention of polite 
circles, yet devoting her time and cares to her family 
and children — English delicacy, unspoiled beauty, 
and unaffected sentiment,— when I think of these, 
(and your friends will not be at a loss to guess where 
I look for them,) it gives the same relief to my mind 
as it would to my eye when wearied and dazzled by 
their sand-walks and terraces, if it could repose upon 
the cheerful and soft green of our lawny turf. I would 
not, however, have you imagine that I am out of hu- 
mour with Paris, where we have enjoyed much pleas- 
ure ; only it is the result of our tour, that taking in all 
things, manners and government as well as climate, 
we like our own country best : and this is an opinion 
certainly favourable to our happiness, who shall pro- 
bably never leave England again. The weather with 
us is, and has been, extremely hot. The trees are 
in their freshest green ; but one sees that the grass 
will soon be burnt if we have not rain. Indeed they 
are 6bliged every day to water the turf in all their 
gardens where they are solicitous about verdure. The 
environs of Paris are charming, yet I think evidently 
inferior to those of London. Yesterday (Whitsun- 
day) we were gratified with a view of all the mag- 
nificence of Versailles. In compliment to the day 
the water-works played, and there was the brilliant 
procession of the cordon bleu ; in consequence of 
which all Paris in a manner was poured into Versailles ; 
and I was ready to forgive the enormous expense and 
ostentation of this palace, when I saw T a numerous 
people of all sorts and degrees filling the rooms and 
wandering in the gardens, full of admiration, and 
deriving both pleasure and pride from their national 



46 CORRESPONDENCE. 

magnificence ; and many a one, I dare say, exulted 
in the thought that the grand monarque's horses are 
better lodged than is the king of England himself. 
The grand gallery filled with Le Brim's paintings is 
of a striking beauty ; the gardens are full of water 
thrown up in artificial fountains, and glittering through 
artificial bosquets ; the walks are adorned with whole 
quarries of marble wrought into statues. In shorty 
art and symmetry reign entirely ; and I hope they 
will never attempt to modernize these gardens, be- 
cause they are a model of magnificence in their kind, 
and Ait appears with so much imposing grandeur, 
that she seems to have a right to reign. The petit 
Trianon belonging to the queen is in another style ; 
with cottages and green lawns and winding walks of 
flowering shrubs in the English mode, which indeed 
prevails very much at present. 

There is a person here, the Abbe d'Hauy, who 
teaches the blind to read by means of books printed 
expressly for them in a relief of white. The under- 
taking is curious ; but they are at present somewhat 
in the state of the blind men brought up for painters 
in the island of Laputa, who were not so perfect in 
the mixing of their colours but that they sometimes 
mistook blue for red. 

The French stage is not, I think, at present very 
brilliant ; three of their best actors have lately left it. 
But at the Italian theatre they have a delightful little 
piece, which under the name of a comic opera draws 
tears from all the world. It is called Nina, or La 
Folle d* Amour, and Mademoiselle du Gazon acts 
the part of Nina ; and does it with such enchanting 
grace, such sweet and delicate touches of sensibility 
and passion, as I never saw upon any theatre. It is the 
sweet bells jangled out of tune, but not harsh : no rav- 
ing, no disorder of dress ; but every look and gesture 



CORRESPONDENCE. 47 

.showed an unsettled mind, and a tenderness inimitable. 
At the Opera they have likewise an actress full of 
grace, Mademoiselle St. Huberti ; but there it is a 
grace beyond mere nature. Everybody (that is every- 
body who follows the fashion) leaves Paris in the 
summer, which was not the case some years ago. 
We stay now for a fine show, — the procession on 
the Fete Dieu, in which all the tapestry of the Gobe- 
lins is exposed in the streets. We shall return by 
Calais and proceed immediately to London, where 
we shall take lodgings for some time. 

Will you do me the favour to remember us with 
grateful affection to all our friends at Norwich ? There 
are so many that claim our esteem, I do not attempt 
to enumerate them ; but do not forget to give a kiss 
for us to each of your dear boys, and to assure Mr. 
Taylor of Mr. Barbauld's and my affectionate esteem. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 
MY DEAR BROTHER, London, June 29, 1786, 

I am happy to write to you again from English 
ground. We set out from Paris on the 17th, but 
went no further than Chantilly, as we meant to devote 
the whole of the next day to seeing that noble seat of 
the prince of Conde, which, both for the house and 
grounds, is the finest we have seen in France. The 
stables, which hold three hundred horses, are a most 
beautiful piece of architecture. There is a noble 
museum and armory in the palace ; a fine piece of 
artificial water in the gardens, which are laid out partly 
in the English, partly in the French style, and in the 
best taste of both ; a dairy floored and lined with 
marble, and in which all the utensils are of marble 
or fine porcelain : a menagerie ; an orangerie, all the 



48 CORRESPONDENCE, 

plants of which (some hundreds) being set out and in 
full blossom, diffused the richest perfume I ever was 
regaled with. Uisle aV Amour is one of the prettiest 
parts of the garden, abounding with alleys and walks, 
some close, others gay and airy, formed by light 
lattice-work covered with privet and adorned with the 
greatest profusion of honeysuckles and roses. In the 
centre of the island is a statue of a Cupid without 
wings or quiver, holding a heart with these lines : 

" N'offrant qu'un coeur a la beaute, 
Aussi nud que la verite, 
Sans armes comme l'innocence, 
Sans ailes comme la Constance, 
Tel fut T Amour au siecle d'or ; 
On ne le trouve plus, mais on le cherche encore." 

The temple of Venus is a large saloon, in which 
are fountains continually throwing up water, which 
falls again into agate vases ; leaning over which are 
Cupids of marble. The whole room is painted, 
and breathes a coolness and gaiety quite enchanting. 
As we were walking in these gardens we had the 
pleasure of seeing a balloon fly over our heads : it 
was in full sail for England with M. Tetu, who had 
set off from Paris that morning. However, with our 
humbler mode of travelling we got to Dover first ; for 
the lightning caught the car ; and though the aerial 
traveller received no damage from it, he was obliged 
to lie by to refit his balloon, which descended not far 
from Boulogne. From Boulogne we took our pas- 
sage. We had intended to have gone on to Calais, 
but it was four posts more ; and besides, we were 
told that the passage from Boulogne, though longer, 
was generally performed in less time, and was now 
preferred ; which we found to be true. We were 
obliged indeed to wait a day for a vessel, but we got 
over in less than four hours. And not without a pleas- 



CORRESPONDENCE. 49 

•nig emotion did we view again the green swelling hills 
covered with large sheep, and the winding road bor- 
dered with the hawthorn hedge, and the English vine 
twisted round the tall poles, and the broad Med way 
covered with vessels, and at last the gentle, yet majes- 
tic Thames. Nor did we find these home scenes had 
lost of their power to strike or charm us, by all we had 
seen abroad. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT, 

London, July 7, 1786. 

I feel an impatience at being again on English 
ground, and yet not being able to hear news of you. 
My imagination pictures you with a lovely burden in 
your arms,— -whether boy or girl she is not able to 
determine, but a charming infant however, that exer- 
cises your sweet sprightliness in entertaining it, and 
delights your sensibility by its early notice. But of 

this delightful circumstance I want to be certain 

In the mean time let me give you some account of our- 
selves. After having spent so much time at Paris, that 
we were obliged to give up our original design of visit- 
ing Flanders, we returned by way of Chantilly 

I could not help being struck with the neatness 
and civility of all the inns on the road from Dover 
to London. In neatness the English are acknow- 
ledged to excel ; and though the upper rank in 
France may practise politeness with more ease and 
grace than we do, yet it is certain that the lower or- 
der are much less respectful and more grossier than 
ours of the same class. 

I do not know how it is, I think verily London is a 
finer town than Paris ; and yet it does not appear to 
me since my return so magnificent as it used to do : 

VOL. II. 5 



50 CORRESPONDENCE. 

I believe the reason is, that Paris has so much the 
advantage in being built of stone. Another advantage 
to the environs derived from that is, that they are not 
fumigated by the abominable brick-kilns which are so 
numerous near our metropolis. 

There is not much new at present in French polite 
literature. M. Florian has published a didactic ro- 
mance, Numa Pompilius, in imitation of Telemachus,, 
but it is heavy. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Caroline-street, Jan. 31, 1787. 

I do not owe you a letter 't is true ; but what of 
that ? I take it for granted you will like to hear from 
me ; and to hear from or write to you gives me more 
pleasure than most things in this great city. The 
hive is now full ; almost every body that intends to 
come to town is come, and the streets rattle with car- 
riages at all hours. Do not you remember reading 
in the Spectator of a great black tower, from which 
were cast nets that catched up every body that came 
within a certain distance ? This black tower I in- 
terpret to be this great smoky city ; and I begin to 
be afraid we are got too much within its attraction, for 
the nets seem to be winding round about us ; nay, 
we had some serious thoughts last week of setting up 
•our tent here 

We are got into the visiting way here, which I 
do not consider quite as idle employment, because it 
leads to connexions ; but the hours are intolerably 
late. The other day at Mrs. Chapone's, none of the 
party but ourselves was come at a quarter before eight ; 
and the first lady that arrived, said she hurried away 
from dinner without waiting for the coffee. There 
goes*a story of the Duchess of D , that she said 



CORRESPONDENCE. 51 

vo a tradesman, " Call on me to-morrow morning at 
four o'clock ;" and that the honest man, not being 
aware of the extent of the term morning, knocked the 
family up some hours before daybreak. Last week 
we met the American bishops at Mr. V.'s, — if bishops 
they may be called, without title, without revenue, 
without diocess, and without lawn sleeves. I wonder 
our bishops will consecrate them, for they have made 
very free with the Common Prayer, and have left out 
two creeds out of three. Indeed, as to the Athana- 
sian creed, the king has forbidden it in his chapel, so 
that will soon fall. 

I have been much pleased with the poems of the 
Scottish ploughman, of which you have had speci- 
mens in the Review. His Cotter's Saturday Night 
has much of the same kind of merit as the School- 
mistress ; and the Daisy, and the Mouse, which I be- 
lieve you have had in the papers, I think are charm- 
ing. The endearing diminutives, and the Doric 
rusticity of the- dialect, suit such subjects extremely. 
This is the age for self-taught genius : a subscription 
has been raised for a pipe-maker of Bristol, who has 
been discovered to have a poetic turn ; and they have 
transplanted him to London, where they have taken 
him a little shop, which probably will be frequented 
at first, and then deserted. A more extraordinary in- 
stance is that of a common carpenter at Aberdeen, 
who applied to the professors to be received in the 
lowest mathematical class : they examined him, and 
found he was much beyond it ; then for the next, and 
so on, till they found he had taught himself all they 
could teach him ; and instead of receiving him as a 
student, they gave him a degree. 

Miss Bowdler's Essays are read here by the graver 
sort with much approbation. She is the lady who 
betook herself to writing upon having lost her voice ; 



.V2 CORRESPONDENCE. 

but above all, the Political State for 1787 is read by 
every body. The Eaton boys have published a pe- 
riodical paper among themselves, which they say is 
clever. Dr. Price has a letter from Mr. Howard, 
dated Amsterdam ; he says the Emperor gave him a 
long audience. A pasquinade was fixed upon the 
gate of the lunatic hospital at Vienna. " Josephus, 
ubicunque secundus, Mc primus" 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Hampstead, Sept. 5, 1787. 
I am very glad to be informed what is the proper 
method to engage you to write verses, and should in- 
close herewith an order for a score or two of lines, if 
T thought the command were certain to be as effica- 
cious as the lovely Anna's. 

The generous Muse, whom harsh constraint offends, 
At Anna's call with ready homage bends ; 
Well may she claim.) who gives poetic fire, 
For what her lips command, her eyes inspire. 

Come va V Itcdiano ? I have read a volume of 
Goldoni's Plays ; which are not all worked up to 
superior excellence, as you may suppose, since he 
wrote sixteen in a season. Two are taken from 
Pamela ; but he has spoiled the story by making 
Pamela turn out to be the daughter of an attainted 
Scotch peer, without which salvo for family pride, he 
did not dare to make her lover marry her. Goldo- 
ni's great aim seems to have been to introduce w 7 hat 
he calls comedies of character, instead of the panto- 
mime, and the continual exhibition of harlequin and 
his cortege, which was supported only by the extem- 
pore wit of the actors. There is in his Teatro Com- 



CORRESPONDENCE. 53 

ico a critique which puts me much in mind of Shaks- 
peare's instructions to the players. It abounds with 
good sense, — which, and a desire to promote good 
manners, seem in what I have read to be his charac- 
teristics. I find by him that the prompter repeats the 
whole play before the actors. 

Our plot begins to thicken ; as says. We 

have taken into our family for. six months, and per- 
haps longer, a young Spaniard who comes solely to 
learn English. We dined with the young man, his 
uncle, and another Spaniard, who is secretary to the 

ambassador, at Mr. W 's, where there was a 

great mixture of languages. The secretary, as well 
as French and Spanish, spoke English very well; 
the young man, Spanish and French ; and the uncle, 
though he had been several years in England, only 
Spanish. As Mr- W. had told us they were strict 
Catholics, we expressed a fear lest we should not be 
able to provide for the youth agreeably on fast days : 
but he said, " Tout jour est jour gr as pour moi ':" to 
which the uncle learnedly added, — that it was not 
what went into the mouth, but what came out of it, 
that defileth. As far as we have yet seen, (but he 
has been with us only two days), we find him very 
well behaved and easy in the family ; but the great 
difficulty is to entertain him : he is quite a man, of 
one or two-and-twenty, and rather looks like a Dutch- 
man than a Spaniard. Did you ever see seguars — 
leaf-tobacco rolled up of the length of one's finger, 
which they light and smoke without a pipe ? — he uses 
them. " And how does Mr, B. bear that ? " say you : 
O, he keeps it snug in his room. I would not advise 
the boys to imitate his accent in French, for he pro- 
nounces it with a deep guttural : I fancy he would 
speak Welsh well. 



•54 CORRESPONDENCE, 

It gave very great pleasure the other day to see 
my father's old friend, Dr. Pulteney, whom Dr. Garth- 
shore brought to us. It is a strange and mixt emotion, 
however, which one feels at sight of a person one has 
not seen for twenty years or more. The alteration 
such a space of time makes in both parties, at first 
gives a kind of shock ; — it is your friend, but your 
friend disguised. 

We are making a catalogue of our books ; and I 
have left a great deal of space under the letters A> 
and B. for our future publications. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Hampstead, Feb. 178S. 

We are waiting with great impatience for two 
things, your book and my sister, — your child and your 
wife, that is to say 

I have been reading an old book, which has given 
me a vast deal of entertainment, — Father Herodotus, 
the father of history ; and the father of lies too, his 
enemies might say. I take it for granted the original 
has many more beauties than Littlebury's humble 
translation, which I have been perusing : but at any 
rate, a translation of an original author gives you an 
idea of the times totally different from what one gains 
by a modern compilation. I am much entertained in 
observing the traces of truth in many of his wildest 
fables ; as where he says it was impossible to proceed 
far in Scythia on account of vast quantities of feathers, 
which fell from heaven and covered all the the country. 

We are reading too Sir T. More's Utopia. He 
says many good things ; but it wants a certain salt, 
which Swift and others have put into their works 
of the same nature. One is surprised to see how 



CORRESPONDENCE. 55 

old certain complaints are. Of the frequent execu- 
tions, for instance : twenty men. he says, being hung 
upon one gibbet at a time : of arable land turned to 
pasture, and deserted villages in consequence. 

I hope the exertions which are now making for the 
abolition of the slave-trade will not prove all in vain. 
They will not, if the pleadings of eloquence or the 
cry of duty can be heard. Many of the most respect- 
able and truly distinguished characters are really busy 
about it, and the press and the pulpit are both employ- 
ed ; so I hope something must be done. I expect to 
be highly gratified in hearing Mr. Hastings's trial, for 
which we are to have tickets some day. This im- 
peachment has been the occasion of much pomp, 
much eloquence, and much expense ; and there I 
suppose it will end. As somebody said, it must be 
put off for the judges to go their circuit, resumed late, 
and so it will fall into the summer amusements. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Hampstead, May 1789. 

I often please my mind with the sweet scenes of 
domestic happiness which you must enjoy ; yourself 
in the arms of Mr. and Mrs Dixon, and your children 
in yours. Apropos of the sweet children, — I should 
not be at all alarmed at their speaking Norfolk ; de- 
pend upon it, it will be only temporary where the 
parent does not speak it : and after all, they should 
know the language of the country. I remember 
when I was in Lancashire, being reproved for my 
affectation in not speaking as the country folks did, 
when in truth it was beyond my abilities. 

London is extremely full now : the trial, the par- 
liamentary business, and fetes and illuminations, and 



56 CORRESPONDENCE. 

the Shakspeare Gallery, have all contributed to fill 
the great hive. But among these various objects, 
none is surely so interesting as the noble effort making 
for the abolition of the slave-trade. Nothing, I think, 
for centuries past, has done the nation so much hon- 
our ; because it must have proceeded from the most 
liberal motives, — the purest love of humanity and 
justice. The voice of the Negroes could not have 
made itself heard but by the ear of pity ; they might 
have been oppressed for ages more with impunity, if 
we had so pleased. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Hampstead, Aug. 1789. 

.... 1 do not doubt but your attention, as well as 
that of every one else, has been engaged lately by 
the affairs in France. We were much gratified a 
fortnight ago by seeing Lord Daer, who had been at 
Paris at the beginning of the commotions, and had 
seen the demolition of the Bastille, and with hundreds 
more ranged through that till now impregnable castle 
of Giant Despair. He told us, that after all the pris- 
oners in the common apartments had been liberated, 
they heard for a long time the groans of a man in one 
of the dungeons, to which they could not get access, 
and were at length obliged to take him out by making a 
breach in the wall, through which they drew him out 
after he had been forty-eight hours without food ; 
and they could not at last find the aperture by which 
he was put into the dungeon. 



MY DEAR MRS. BEECROFT, Sept. 1790. 

It is but lately that I heard you were returned 
from your delightful expedition, or I should have 



CORRESPONDENCE. 57 

written sooner ; for I am sure so kind and charming 
a letter as yours demanded an early acknowledge- 
ment. I do not say 1 envy you your party and your 
tour, because I have in some measure enjoyed it 
along with you. I have tracked you to the top of Skid- 
daw ; seen you impress the mountains with your 
light and nymph-like step, and skim over the lakes 
with a rapid and smooth motion, like a bird that just 
touches them with her wing without dipping it. I 
have contemplated the effect such scenes must pro- 
duce on minds so turned to admire the beauties of 
nature as yours and your poetical companions ; and I 
have watched till imagination has kindled, and beauty 
has swelled into sublimity. Indeed, independently 
of scenes so wildly picturesque, a journey is the most 
favourable thing in the w T orld for the imagination ; 
which, like a wheel, kindles with the motion : I shall 
therefore certainly expect it to produce some fruit. 

I suppose you are now returned to your course of 
instructive reading, and your sweet employment of 
instructing your little charge. Pray have you seen 
Sacontala, an Indian drama translated by Sir William 
Jones ? You will be much pleased with it. There is 
much fancy and much sentiment in it, — much poetry 
too, and mythology : but these, though full of beauties, 
are often uncouth and harsh to the European ear. 
The language of nature and the passions is of all 
countries. The hero of the piece is as delicate and 
tender a lover as any that can be met with in the 
pages of a modern romance ; for I hope you can 
pardon him a little circumstance relative to the costume 
of the country, w 7 hich is just hinted at in the poem : I 
mean the having a hundred wives besides the mistress 
of his heart. — So much for works of entertainment ! 
There is a publication of higher merit set on foot in 
France by Rabaut St. Etienne and some others,— 



58 CORRESPONDENCE. 

La Feuille Villageoise, of which I have seen the first 
number. The respectable object of it is to instruct 
the country people (who are there remarkably igno- 
rant) in morals, in the new laws and constitution of 
their country, in the state of the arts and new discov- 
eries, as far as can be of practical use to them ; and 
in short, to open their minds and make them love 
their duties. M. Berquin is engaged in something 
similar ; but this is more extensive. There is room 
for all true patriots to exert themselves in every way 
in France, for their situation seems still but too pre- 
carious. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT, 

Hampstead, May 7, 1791. 

You ought, I think, to come to London 

every spring, to peep into the Exhibition and Shaks- 
peare Gallery, and to see our proud metropolis when 
she adorns her head with wreaths of early roses, and 
perfumes her crowded streets with all the first scents 
of the spring. So uncommonly fine has the weather 
been this year, that in March, if you were in a flower- 
shop, you might have imagined it the glowing month 
of June. 

I last Sunday attended with melancholy satisfaction 
the funeral sermon of good Dr. Price, preached by 
Dr. Priestley, who, as he told us, had been thirty 
years his acquaintance, and twenty years his intimate 
friend. He well delineated the character he so well 
knew. I had just been reading an eloge of Mirabeau, 
and I could not help in my own mind comparing both 
the men and the tribute paid to their memories. The 
one died when a reputation raised suddenly, by ex- 
traordinary emergencies, was at its height, and very 



CORRESPONDENCE. 59 

possibly might have ebbed again, had he lived longer : 
the other enjoyed an esteem, the fruit of a course 
of labours uniformly directed through a long life 
to the advancement of knowledge and virtue, a repu- 
tation slowly raised, without and independent of pop- 
ular talents. The panegyrist of the one was obliged 
to sink his private life, and to cover with the splendid 
mantle of public merit, the crimes and failings of the 
man : — the private character of the other was able 
to bear the severest scrutiny ; neither slander, nor 
envy, nor party prejudice, ever pretended to find a 
spot in it. The one was followed even by those who 
did not trust him : the other was confided in and 
trusted even by those who reprobated his principles. 
In pronouncing the eloge on Mirabeau, the author 
scarcely dares to insinuate a vague and uncertain 
hope that his spirit may hover somewhere in the void 
space of immensity, be rejoined to the first principles 
of nature ; and attempts to soothe his shade with a 
cold and barren immortality in the remembrance of 
posterity. Dr. Priestley parts with his intimate friend, 
with all the cheerfulness which an assured hope of 
meeting him soon again could give, and at once dries 
the tear he excites. 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Hampstead, May, 1791. 

What do you say to Pitt and Fox agreeing so 
well about the affair of libels ? Is there any thing be- 
hind the curtain ? I hope not ; for I own I have felt 
myself much interested for Fox since his noble and 
manly behaviour, mixed with so much sensibility and 
tempered with so much forbearance, towards Burke. 
It puts one in mind of the quarrel between Brutus and 
Cassius. 



60 CORRESPONDENCE. 

I am reading with a great deal of interest Ramsay's 
History of the American Revolution ; and I do not 
wonder that the old story of Greece and Rome grows, 
as you say, flat, when we have events of such impor- 
tance passing before our eyes, and from thence ac- 
quiring a warmth of colour and authenticity which it 
is in vain to seek for in histories that have passed from 
hand to hand through a series of ages. How uniform- 
ly great was Congress, and what a spotless character 
Washington ! All their public acts, Sic, are remark- 
ably well drawn up. We are reading in idle moments, 
or rather dipping into, a very different work, Bos- 
well's long-expected Life of Johnson. It is like 
going to Ranelagh ; you meet all your acquaintance : 
but it is a base and a mean thing to bring thus every 
idle word into judgment — the judgment of the pub- 
lic. Johnson, I think, was far from a great character ; 
he was continually sinning against his conscience, and 
then afraid of going to hell for it. A Christian and a 
man of the town, a philosopher and a bigot, acknowl- 
edging life to be miserable, and making it more mis- 
erable through fear of death ; professing great dis- 
taste to the country, and neglectiug the urbanity of 
towns ; a Jacobite, and pensioned ; acknowledged to 
be a giant in literature, and yet we do not trace him, 
as we do Locke, or Rousseau, or Voltaire, in his in- 
fluence on the opinions of the times. We cannot say 
Johnson first opened this vein of thought, led the way 
to this discovery or this turn of thinking. In his style 
he is original, and there we can track his imitators. 
In short, he seems to me to be one of those who have 
shone in the belles lettres, rather than, what he is held 
out by many to be, an original and deep genius in 
investigation. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 01 



TO DR. AIKIN. 

Hampstead, 1789. 

I do not know whether I said so before, 

but I cannot help thinking that the revolution in France 
will introduce there an entire revolution in education; 
and particularly be the ruin, of classical learning, the 
importance of which must be lessening every day ; 
while other sciences, particularly that of politics and 
government, must rise in value, afford an immediate 
introduction to active life, and be necessary in some 
degree to everybody. All the kindred studies of the 
cloister must sink, and we shall live no longer on the 
lean relics of antiquity. 

Apropos of France, Mrs. Montague, who enter- 
tains all the aristocrats, had invited a marchioness of 
Boufflers and her daughter to dinner. After making 
her wait till six, the marchioness came, and made an 
apology for her daughter, that just as she w^as going 
to dress she was seized with a degout momentanee du 
monde, and could not w T ait on her. 

There is a little Frenchman here at Hampstead, 
who is learning the language, and he told us he had 
been making an attempt at some English verses. " I 
have made," says he, " four couplets in masculine and 
feminine rimes." " O sir," says I, " you have given 
yourself needless trouble, we do not use them." 
" Why, how so," says he ; " have you no rules then 
for your verse?" "Yes sir, but we do not use mas- 
culine and feminine rimes." Well, 1 could not make 
him comprehend there could be any regular poetry 
without these rimes. 

Mr. Brand Hollis has sent me an American poem, 
The Conquest of Canaan, — a regular epic in twelve 
books ; but I hope I need not read it. Not that the 
poetry is bad, if the subject were more interesting. 

VOL. II. 6 



62 CORRESPONDENCE. 

What had he to do to make Joshua his hero, when 
he had Washington of his own growth ? 

We are at present reading Anacharsis, and are 
much pleased with it. There is nothing of adventure, 
nothing like a novel ; but the various circumstances 
relating to the Greeks are classed and thrown together 
in such a manner as to dwell on the mind. It has just 
the effect which it would have if in the Museum, instead 
of being shown separately the arms and dresses of 
different nations, you had figures dressed up and 
accoutred in them : the Otaheitan mourner walk- 
ing to a moral; the warrior full-armed in the attitude 
of attack ; and the priest with all the various instru- 
ments of sacrifice before the altar. Thus they be- 
come grouped in the mind. 

I want you to propose a metaphysical question to 
your Society, which Mr. B. and I have had great 
debates upon ; and I want to know your opinion and 
my sister's. It is this : If you were now told that in 
a future state of existence you should be entirely de- 
prived of your consciousness, so as not to be sensible 
you were the same being who existed here, — should 
you, or should you not, be now interested in your 
future happiness or misery ? or, in other words, is 
continued consciousness the essence of identity ? 



Buxton, Oct. 1794. 
MY DEAR MRS. BEECROFT, 

Is it permitted me to renew a correspondence 
which has been too long interrupted, though our 
friendship, I trust, never has ? — strange indeed would 
it be, if the esteem and affection I owe you could 
ever subside, or if I could ever forget the marks of 
kindness and attention I have aKvays received from 
you. How good it was of you, to invite Mr. Barbauld 



CORRESPONDENCE. G3 

while I have been rambling ! I should have been 
more satisfied with being away, if he had accepted 
your offer ; for I should have known then, that he 
would have no occasion to regret any of the beautiful 
scenes I have enjoyed without him. I have been- 
much pleased with Scotland. I do not know wheth- 
er you ever extended your tour so far : if you have 
not seen it, let me beg that you will ; for I do not 
think that in any equal part of England so many in- 
teresting objects are to be met with, as occur in 
what is called the little tour ; from Edinburgh to 
Stirling, Perth, and Blair, along the pleasant windings 
of the Forth and Tay ; then by the lakes, ending 
with Loch Lomond, the last and greatest, and so 
to Glasgow ; then to the Falls of the Clyde, and back 
by Dumfries ; which last, however, we did not do : 
for we returned to Edinburgh. Scotland is a country 
strongly marked with character. Its rocks, its woods, 
its water, its castles, its towns, are all picturesque, 
generally grand. Some of the views are wild and 
savage, but none of them insipid, if you except the 
bleak, flat, extended moor. The entrance into the 
Highlands, by Dunkeld is striking ; it is a kind of 
gate. I thought it would be a good place for hanging 
up an inscription similar to that of Dante, " Per me 

si va " 

Edinburgh is so commanding a situation for a 
capital, I almost regretted it was not one, and that 
the fine rooms at Holyrood-house are falling into 
ruins. The Old and New town make the finest con- 
trast in the world : but beautiful as the New town is. 
I was convinced, after being some days in it, that its 
perfect regularity tends towards insipidity, and that a 
gentle waving line in a street, provided it is without 
affectation, and has the advantage of some inequality 
of ground, is more agreeable than streets that cut one 
another at right angles. 



64 CORRESPONDENCE. 

We were much struck with the Falls of the Clyde 
and its steep banks richly wooded. Indeed, wherever 
the country is wooded, it is beautiful, and it is every 
where improving in that respect : millions of trees are 
planted every year ; but it is some time before plant- 
ed trees form a feature of the country. A belt of 
wood, dotted clumps, a circlet of firs on a hill, have 
not the easy and natural appearance of a wood that fills 
the hollow of a valley, and shapes itself to the bend- 
ings and risings of the ground. And now let me 
whisper in your ear that I long very much to be at 
home again : the limits which I had set myself not to 
exceed, are expired ; and besides, I do not like this 
country, which has all the dreariness, without the 
grandeur of scenery, of that which we have left. The 
Crescent, however, has a beautiful appearance in a 
deep hollow surrounded by hills. It looks like a 
jewel at the bottom of an earthern cup. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT, 

Sept. 2, 1795. 

* Your emigrants are very interesting peo- 
ple. I think the English character has never appear- 
ed in a more amiable light, than in the kind and 
hospitable attentions which have been pretty generally 
shown to these unfortunate people. I was much 
amused with Louvet, and interested ; though I con- 
fess the interest was somewhat weakened by the re- 
flection, that he was by profession a bookseller and a 
writer of romances ; and I think one may discover a 
few traits de plume in the high colouring he gives to 
the attachment between himself and his wife. What 
has still more interested me, — because I have a high- 
er opinion of her character, and greater confidence in 



CORRESPONDENCE. 65 

her sincerity, — is VAppel de Madame Roland. 
What talents ! what energy of character ! what pow- 
ers of description ! But have you seen the second 
part, which has not been printed here, and which 
contains memoirs of her life from the earliest period 
to the death of her mother, when she was one-and- 
twenty? It is surely the. most singular book that has 
appeared since the Confessions of Rousseau ; a book 
that none but a Frenchwoman could write, and won- 
derfully entertaining. I began it with a certain fear 
upon my mind — What is this woman going to tell me ? 
Will it be any thing, but what will lessen my esteem 
for her ? If, however, we w r ere to judge of the female 
and male mind by contrasting these confessions with 
those I just now mentioned, the advantage in purity, 
comme de raison, will be greatly on the side of our sex. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Hampstead, July 25, 1736. 

I do not know the present course of your 

reading, but I imagine that two works, at least, have 
employed the leisure of both of us ; Roscoe's Lorenzo, 
and Mrs. d'Arblay's Camilla. The former is a very 
capital work : I only wish that instead of making 
Lorenzo the Magnificent, the centre round which 
every thing revolves, he had made the history of 
literature itself the professed subject of his work, and 
taken the Medici only in connexion with that. — And 
how do you like Camilla ? Not so well, I am afraid, 
as the former publications from the same hand. I 
like, however, the story of Eugenia, where the distress 
is new ; and the character of that amiable imheciUe 
the uncle : and Mrs. Arlberry's character is very well 
drawn. I was struck on reading the work with the 
6* 



66 CORRESPONDENCE. 

persuasion, that no second work of an author, win/ 
has written the first after being in full possession of his 
powers, can help falling off, and for this reason : — 
every one has a manner of his own, a vein of thinking 
peculiar to himself; and on the second publication, 
though the incidents may be all new, the novelty re- 
sulting from this originality is gone for ever. I think 
Gibbon says, in his very entertaing Memoirs, that 
nothing can renew the pleasure with which a favourite 
author and the public meet one another for the first 
time. 

I am just now reduced to regret, my dear friend, 
that I have taken such small paper. It cuts short 
what I was going to tell you of General Paoli, whom 
[ met the other day. Had it been thirty years ago, 
it would have made my heart beat stronger. He told 
us a good deal about his god-son and aid-de-camp 
Bounaparte, who was going to write Paoli's annals, 
when he was called upon to give ample matter for his 
own annals. 



TO MRS. CARR, 

Bristol, August, 1797. 

We are here very comfortably with our friend 
Air. Estlin, who, like some other persons that I know, 
has the happy art of making his friends feel entirely 
at home with him : — he and Mrs. E. follow their oc- 
cupations in the morning, and we our inclinations. 
The walks here on both sides the river are delightful ; 
and the scenery at St. Vincent's rocks, whether viewed 
from above or below, is far superior, in my opinion, 
even to the beautifully dressed scenes that border the 
Thames, though these exceed it in fine trees 

I have seen Dr. Beddoes, who is a very pleasant 
man : his favourite prescription at present to ladies 



CORRESPONDENCE. 61 

is, the inhaling the breath of cows ; and as he does 
not, like the German doctors, send the ladies to the 
cow-house, the cows are to be brought into the lady's 
chamber, where they are to stand all night with their 

heads within the curtains. Mrs. , who has a 

good deal of humour, says the benefit cannot be mu- 
tual ; and she is afraid, if -the fashion takes, we shall 
eat diseased beef. It is fact, however, that a family 
have been turned out of their lodgings, because the 
people of the house would not admit the cows : they 
said they had not built and furnished their rooms for 
the hoofs of cattle. 



TO MRS. KENRICK. 
Iff DEAR FRIEND, Hampstead, 1800. 

Whether or no I received the letter which you 
forgot to write, I shall not tell you ; I only know that 
I am often reproached by my correspondents for neg- 
ligence ; and for the life of me I cannot think of any 
tiling that has hindered the arrival of my letters, ex- 
cept the cause to which you are inclined to attribute 
the failure of yours. Be that as it may, I most cer- 
tainly have received from you one letter which has 
given me a great deal of pleasure, and for which I 
will no longer defer my affectionate thanks. And 
what shall I tell you first ? That we are well, that 
we have rubbed tolerably through the winter, and that 
we have been enjoying the sudden burst of spring, 
which clothed every tree and every hedge in verdure 
with a rapidity seldom observed in our climate. The 
blossoms were all pushed out at once, but unfortunately 
few have remained long enough to give the expectation 
of fruit. I fear it may be the same with your beauti- 
ful apple-orchards. We often picture to ourselves 



j68 CORRESPONDENCE. 

the beautiful country, and still oftener the affectionate 
friends and the interesting family with whom we 
spent so happy a fortnight last summer. 

If all that has happened had not happened, or the 
memory of it could be washed away with Lethe, how 
usefully and respectably might Dr. Priestley now be 
placed at the head of the Royal Institution, which is 
so fashionable just now in London ! I went a few 
mornings ago to hear Dr. Garnet, who is at present 
the only lecturer, and was much pleased to see a 
fashionable and very attentive audience, about one 
third ladies, assembled for the purposes of science 
and improvement. How much is taught now, and 
even made a part of education, which, when you and 
I were young, was not even discovered ! It does 
some credit to the taste of the town, that the Institution 
and the Bishop of London's lectures have been the 
most fashionable places of resort this winter. I have 
received, however, great pleasure lately from the 
representation of De Montfort, a tragedy which you 
probably read a year and half ago, in a volume entitled 
A Series of Plays on the Passions. I admired it then, 
but little dreamed I was indebted for my entertain- 
ment to a young lady of Hampstead whom I visited, 
and who came to Mr. Barbauld's meeting all 
the while with as innocent a face as if she had never 
written a line. The play is admirably acted by Mrs. 
Siddons and Kemble, and is finely written, with great 
purity of sentiment, beauty of diction, strength and 
originality of character ; but it is open to criticism, — 
I cannot believe such a hatred natural. The affection 
between the brother and sister is most beautifully 
touched, and, as far as I know, quite new. The play 
is somewhat too good for our present taste. 



CORRESPONDENCE. G9 

Hampstead, Oct. 1301. 
MY DEAR MRS. CARR, 

Though I hope the time approaches when we 
shall be within reach of one another again, I feel 
the want of our accustomed intercourse too strongly 
not to wish to supply it in some manner by a let- 
ter. Besides, I want to wish you joy on the peace, 
which came at last so unexpectedly, and almost over- 
whelmed us with the good news. We have hardly 
done illuminating and bouncing and popping upon the 
occasion. The spontaneous joy and mutual congrat- 
ulations of all ranks show plainly what were the wish- 
es of the people, though they dared not to declare 
them. And now France lies like a huge loadstone 
on the other side the Channel, and will draw every 
mother's child of us to it. Those who know French, 
are refreshing their memories, — those who do not, 
are learning it ; and every one is planning in some 
way or other to get a sight of the promised land. 

Our Hampstead neighbours are returning to us from 
the lakes, and the sea, and the ends of the earth. I 
have been puzzling myself to account for this univer- 
sal disposition amongst us to migrate at a certain time 
of the year and change our way of life ; and I have 
been fancying that we English lie under the same 
spell which the fairies are said to do, — -by which, dur- 
ing a month every year, they are obliged to be trans- 
formed, and to wander about exposed to adventures. 
So some of our nymphs are turned into butterflies for 
the season, others into Naiads, and sport about till 
the sober months come, when they resume their usual 
appearance and occupation of notable housewives, 
perhaps in Cheapside or the Borough. As to you, 
you carry your cares with you, and therefore must be 
pretty much the same, except the dripping locks o£ 



70 CORRESPONDENCE. 

the Naiad ; but Sarah, I imagine, is at this moment 
skimming along the shore like a swallow, or walking 
with naked feet like a slender heron in the water, or 
nestling among the cliffs. Wherever she is, my love 
to her. 



Southampton, July 10. - 
MY DEAR MRS. CARR, 

Have you ever seen the Isle of Wight ? if not, you 
have not seen the prettiest place in the king's domin- 
ions. It is such a charming little island ! In this 
great island, which we set foot on half an hour ago, 
the sea is at such a distance from the greater part of 
it, that you have no more acquaintance with it than if 
you were in the heart of Germany ; and even on the 
coast, England appears no more an island to the eye 
than France does ; but in this little gem of the ocean, 
called the Isle of Wight, you see and feel you are in 
an island every moment. The great ocean becomes 
quite domestic ; you see it from every point of view ; 
you have it on the right hand, you look and you have 
it on the left also ; you see both sides of the island at 
once, — you look into every creek and corner of it, 
which produces a new and singular feeling. We have 
taken three different rides upon and under high cliffs, 
corn-fields, and villages down to the ^water's edge, and 
a fine West India fleet in view, with the sails all spread, 
and her convoy most majestically sailing by her. We 
saw Lord Dysart's seat, and Sir Richard Worsley's : 
at the former, there is a seat in the rock which shuts 
out every object but the shoreless ocean, — for it looks 
towards France : at the latter, there is an attempt at 
an English vineyard ; the vines are planted on terraces 
one above another. Another day's excursion was to 
the Needles ; we walked to the very point, the toe of 



CORRESPONDENCE. 7 1 

the island : the seagulls were flying about the rock 
like bees from a hive, and little fleets of puffins with 
their black heads in the water. Allurn bay looks like 
a wall of marble veined with different colours. The 
freshness of the sea air, and the beauty of the smooth 
turf of the downs on which we rode or walked, was 
inexpressibly pleasing. The next day we visited the 
north side of the island, richly wooded down to the 
water's edge, and rode home over a high down with 
the sea on both sides, and a rich country between ; 
the corn beginning to acquire the tinge of harvest 
time. In short, I do believe that if Buonaparte were 
to see the Isle of Wight, he would think it a very 
pretty appanage for some third or fourth cousin, and 
would make him king of it — if he could get it. 



TO MRS. SMITH. 
DEAR MADAM, Stoke Newington, Feb. 26, 1803. 

It would have given me great pleasure to have 
been among those friends who crowd about you to 
congratulate your arrival again on English ground ; 
but the distance, — first the severity of the w r eather, and 
then indisposition consequent upon it, prevent my having 
that pleasure. I cannot content myself, however, 
without writing a line to welcome you all home. We 
hear you have been very much pleased with Paris, 
which indeed w T as to be expected. The canvass 
people and the marble people must be sufficient to 
make a rich voyage of it, even if the French people 
had not opened their mouths 

We are apt to accuse some of you travellers of 
bringing us over an influenza from Paris, softened 
indeed in passing over the Channel, but severe enough 



72 CORRESPONDENCE. 

to set us all a coughing. We try to amuse ourselves, 
however, with reading ; and among other things have 
been greatly amused and interested with Hayley's 
Life of Cowper, which I would much advise you to 
read if it comes in your way. Hayley, indeed, has 
very little merit in it, for it is a collection of letters with 
a very slender thread of biography ; but many of the 
letters are charming, particularly to his relation, Lady 
Hesketh ; and there is one poem to his Mary, abso- 
lutely the most pathetic piece that ever was written. 
We have also read, as I suppose you have done, 
Madame de Stael's Delphine. Her pen has more of 
Rousseau than any author that has appeared for a 
long time. I suppose you have heard it canvassed 
and criticised at Paris 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

July 28, 1803. 

I am glad to find you have spent the spring so 
pleasantly. But when you say you made the ex- 
cursion instead of coming to London, you forget that 
you might have passed the latter end of a London 
winter in town after enjoying the natural spring in the 
country. We have been spending a week at Rich- 
mond, in the delightful shades of Ham walks and 
Twickenham meadows. I never saw so many flow- 
ering limes and weeping-willows as in that neighbour- 
hood : they say, you know, that Pope's famous willow 
was the first in the country ; and it seems to corrobo- 
rate it, that there are so many in the vicinity. Under 
the shade of the trees we read Southey's Amadis, 
which 1 suppose you are also reading. As all Eng- 
lishmen are now to turn knights-errant and fight 
against the great giant and monster Buonaparte, the 



CORRESPONDENCE. 73 

publication seems very seasonable. Pray are you 
an alarmist ? One hardly knows whether to be fright- 
ened or diverted on seeing people assembled at a din- 
ner-table, appearing to enjoy extremely the fare and 
the company, and saying all the while, with a most 
smiling and placid countenance, that the French are 
to land in a fortnight, and that London is to be sacked 
and plundered for three days, — and then they talk of 
going to watering-places. I am sure we do not be- 
lieve in the danger we pretend to believe in ; and I 
am sure that none of us can even form an idea how 
we should feel, if w 7 e w r ere forced to believe it. I 
wish I could lose in the quiet walks of literature all 
thoughts of the present state of the political horizon. 
My brother is going to publish Letters to a young 
Lady on English Poetry ; he is indefatigable. " I 
wish you were half as diligent ! " say you. " Amen ! " 
say I. Love to Eliza and Laura, and thank the for- 
mer for her note. I shall always be glad to hear 
from either of them. How delightful must be the 
soft beatings of a heart entering into the world for the 
first time, every surrounding object new, fresh, and 
fair, — all smiling within and without ! Long may every 
sweet illusion continue that promotes happiness, and 
ill befall the rough hand that would destroy them I 



TO MISS TAYLOR, NOW MRS. REEVE. 

Tunbridge Wells, August 11, 1804. 

I may call you dear Susan, may not I ? for I can 
love you, if not better, yet more familiarly and at my 
ease under that appellation than under the more for- 
mal one of Miss Taylor, though you have now a train 
to your gown, and are, I suppose, at Norwich invested 
with all the rights of womanhood. I have many things 

VOL. II. 7 



74 CORRESPONDENCE. 

to thank you for : — in the first place for a charming 
letter, which has both amused and delighted us. In 
the next place, I have to thank you for a very elegant 
veil, which is very beautiful in itself, and receives 
great additional value from being the work of your 
ingenious fingers. I have brought it here to parade 
with upon the Pantiles, being by much the smartest 
part of my dress. O that you were here, Susan, to 
exhibit upon a donky — I cannot tell whether my 
orthography is right, but a donky is the monture in 
high fashion here ; and I assure you, when covered 
with blue housings, and sleek, it makes no bad fig- 
ure : — I mean a lady, if an elegant woman, makes no 
bad figure upon it, with a little boy or girl behind, 
who carries a switch, meant to admonish the animal 
from time to time that he is hired to walk on, and 
not to stand still. The ass is much better adapted 
than the horse to show off a lady ; for this reason, 
which perhaps may not have occurred to you, that 
her beauty is not so likely to be eclipsed : for you 
must know that many philosophers, amongst whom is 

, are decidedly of opinion that a fine horse is a 

much handsomer animal than a fine woman ; but I 
have not yet heard such a preference asserted in 
favour of the ass, — not our English asses at least, — 
a fine Spanish one, or a zebra, perhaps 

It is the way to subscribe for every thing here ; — 
to the library, &c. ; and among other things we were 
asked on the Pantiles to subscribe for eating fruit as 
we pass backwards and forwards. " How much ?" — 
" Half-a-crown." " But for how long a time ?" " As 
long as you please." " But I should soon eat half-a- 
crown's-worth of fruit." — " O, you are upon honour !" 

There are pleasant walks on the hills here, and 
picturesque views of the town, which, like Bath, is 
seen to advantage by lying in a hollow. It bears the 






CORRESPONDENCE. 75 

marks of having been long a place of resort, from the 
number of good and rather old built houses, all let for 
lodgings ; and shady walks, and groves of old growth. 
The sides of many of the houses are covered with 
tiles ; but the Pantiles, which you may suppose I saw 
with some interest, are now paved with freestone. 

We were interested in your account of Cambridge, 
and glad you saw not only buildings but men. With 
a mind prepared as yours is, how much pleasure have 
you to enjoy from seeing ! That all your improvements 
may produce you pleasure, and all your pleasures 
tend to improvement, is the wish of 

Your ever affectionate. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Dorking, Sept. 1805. 

We came hither to take lodgings some- 
where in this beautiful country, but found none vacant ; 
so we have been some time at Burford-Bridge, a 
little quiet sort of an inn in the centre of the pleasant 

walks ; and a few days with our friends the C s. 

This is very much of a corn country, and we are 
in the midst of harvest ; the window at which I am 
now writing, looks into a corn-field, where a family 
have established their menage. The man and his 
wife are reaping the corn ; a cradle with a young 
child in it, is brought into the field by break of day, 
and set under a hedge ; the mother makes a sort of 
tent with her red cloak to shelter it from the weather ; 
and there she gives it suck, and there they take their 
meals : two older children either watch the cradle, or 
run about the fields. A young baronet here has in- 
curred great and deserved odium by forbidding the 
poor to glean in his fields ; and effectually to prevent 



76 CORRESPONDENCE. 

them, the plough immediately follows the sickle : yet 
probably this man can talk of the wisdom of our fore- 
fathers, and the regard due to ancient observances. 
This country is remarkable for great richness of wood, 
which Autumn has as yet only touched with his little 
finger ; — in a month's time they will be enchanting. 
Another agrement here is, that you see no soldiers ; 
though I confess you are put in mind of them by a 
military road lately cut over Box-hill, — I hope a very 
needless precaution. 



TO MRS. J. TAYLOR. 

1806. 

I am now reading Mr. Johnes's Froissart, and I 
think I never was more struck with the horrors of 
war, — simply because he seems not at all struck with 
them ; and I feel ashamed at my heart having ever 
beat with pleasure at the names of Cressy and Poitiers. 
He tells you the English marched into such a district ; 
the barns were full, and cattle and corn plentiful ; they 
burned and destroyed all the villages, and laid the 
country bare ; such an English earl took a town, and 
killed men, women and children ; — and he never 
makes a remark, but shows he looks upon it as the 
usual mode of proceeding. 



June 18, 1810. 
MY DEAR MRS. TAYLOR, 

A thousand thanks for your kind letter ; still 
more for the very kind visit that preceded it — though 
short, too short, it has left indelible impressions on 
my mind ; my heart has truly had communion with 
yours, — your sympathy has been balm to it ; and I 



CORRESPONDENCE. 77 

feel that there is no one now on earth, to whom I 
could pour out that heart more readily, I may say so 
readily, as to yourself. Very good also has my dear 
amiable Mrs. Beecroft been to me, whose lively sweet 
ness and agreeable conversation has at times won me 
to forget that my heart is heavy. 

I am now alone again, and feel like a person who 
has been sitting by a cheerful fire, not sensible at the 
time of the temperature of the air, but the fire remov- 
ed, he finds the season is still winter. Day after day 
passes, and I do not know what I do with my time ; 
my mind has no energy, nor power of application. 
I can tell you, however, what I have done with some 
hours of it, which have been agreeably employed in 
reading Mrs. Montague's Letters. I think her 
nephew has made a very agreeable present to the 
public ; and I was greatly edified to see them printed 
in modest octavo, with Mrs. Montague's sweet face 
(for it is a very pretty face) at the head. They cer- 
tainly show a very extraordinary mind, full of wit, 
and also of deep thought and sound judgment. She 
seems to have liked not a little to divert herself with 
the odd and the ludicrous, and shows herself in the 
earlier letters passionately fond of balls and races and 
London company ; this was natural enough at eighteen. 
Perhaps you may not so easily pardon her for having 
early settled her mind, as she evidently had, not to 
marry except for an establishment. This seems to 
show a want of some of those fine feelings that one 
expects in youth : but when it is considered that she 
was the daughter of a country gentleman with a large 
family and no fortune to expect, and her connexions 
all in high life, one is disposed to pardon her, espe- 
cially as 1 dare say she would never have married a 
fool or a profligate. I heard her say, — what I sup- 
pose very few can say, — that she never was in love 



78 CORRESPONDENCE. 

in her life. Many of the letters are in fact essays ; 
and I think had she turned her thoughts to write ift 
that way, she would have excelled Johnson. 

I have also turned over Lamb's Specimens of Old 
Plays, and am much pleased with them. I made a 
discovery there, that La Motte's fable of Genius, Vir- 
tue, and Reputation, which has been so much praised 
for its ingenious turn, is borrowed from Webster, an 
author of the age of Shakspeare ; or they have taken 
it from some common source, for a Frenchman was 
not very likely to light upon an English poet of that 
age ; they knew about as much of us then, as we did 
fifty years ago of the Germans. It is surprising how 
little invention there is in the world ; no very good 
story was ever invented. It is perhaps originally some 
fact a little enlarged ; then, by some other hand, em- 
bellished with circumstances ; then by somebody else, 
a century after, refined, drawn to a point, and furnish- 
ed with a moral. When shall we see the moral of 
the world's great story, which astonishes by its events, 
interests by the numerous agents it puts in motion, 
but of which we cannot understand the bearings, or 
predict the catastrophe ? It is a tangled web, of which 
we have not the clue. I do not know how to rejoice 
at this victory, splendid as it is, over Buonaparte, 
when I consider the horrible waste of life, the mass of 
misery, w T hich such gigantic combats must occasion. 
I will think no more of it ; let me rather contemplate 
your family : there the different threads all wind even- 
ly, smoothly, and brightly. 



Stoke Newington, May, 1811. 
MY DEAR MRS. KENRICK, 

I have been thinking what to liken our uncertain 
and unfrequent correspondence to. I cannot liken it 



CORRESPONDENCE. 79 

to the regular blow of flowers that come out and blos- 
som in their proper season. It is rather like the aloe, 
that after having been barren season after season, 
shows signs of life all on a sudden, and pushes out 
when you least expect it. But take notice, the life 
is in the aloe all the while, and sorry indeed should 
I be, if the life was not all the while in our friendship, 
though it so seldom diffuses itself over a piece of paper. 
How much I long to see you again I I wish you would 
come and see me this summer, the journey I should 
hope would not be too much for you ; and in coming 
to me, you would be near all your friends. Do think 
of it! 

I believe I am writing you an enormous 

letter ; but I have been in a course of letter-reading. 
I am wading through the letters of Madame du Def- 
fand, in four volumes. Have you read them ? Walpole 
and she wrote every week, and they were continually 
grumbling at one another, yet they went on. Walpole, 
poor man, seems to have been terribly afraid that this 
old blind lady was in love with him ; and he had 
much ado to reduce her expressions of friendship to 
something of an English standard. This lady appears 
to have been very unhappy. She was blind, indeed, 
but she had every thing else that could make age 
comfortable ; fortune, friends, talents, consideration 
in the world, the society of all the wits and all the 
people of rank in Paris, or who visited Paris, but she 
totally wanted the best support of all, — religious feel- 
ings and hopes ; and I do not know any thing that is 
likely to impress their importance more on the mind, 
than the perusal of these letters. You see her tired 
of life, almost blaspheming providence for having 
given her existence ; yet dreading to die, because she 
had no hopes beyond death. A lady told me, she 
would not on any account let her daughter read the 



80 CORRESPONDENCE, 

letters. I think, for my part, they give in this view as 
good a lesson as you can pick out of Mrs. More's 
Practical Piety, which, if you have not read, I can- 
not help it. 

Adieu ! do let me hear from you soon. I wonder, 
say you, the woman has the face to ask it. That's 
true, but I hope you will, notwithstanding. Nothing 
will give more pleasure to 

Your ever affectionate friend. 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Stoke Newington, Jan. 1, 1813. 

Many happy new years to you, my dear friend, 
and may they bring you increasing joy in your children 
and your children's children, and in your circle of 
friends, and in the various occupations of all sorts, 
which the exercise of your talents or the offices of 
kindness engage you in ! To you I may wish this, 
with cheerful hope of its fulfilment. At my time of 
life, to look forward to new years, is to contemplate 
the prospect of increasing languor and growing in- 
firmities. Not, I am sure, that 1 have any reason to 
complain, for Time deals gently with me ; and though 
I feel that I descend, the slope is easy ; and greatly 
thankful I am that I have, so accessible and so near 
me, the friends and relations that were assembled at 
Christmas in order to help me to dispatch your noble 
turkey. It was indeed so large, that I had some 
difficulty in persuading them that it came to me in- 
closed in a letter ; but I pleaded your known veracity, 
and they submitted. Accept, my dear friend, my 
best thanks, and believe me, though my pen (it is a 
naughty pen) has been idle, I did not want it to put 
me in mind of so dear a friend. 



CORRESPONDENCE. 81 

Yes, I have been at Bristol this summer, and spent 
there almost the only month that could be called 
summer in the last year. I spent some days at Bath, 
some at that delightful place Clifton ; and I spent a 
day with Hannah More and her four sisters at her 
charming cottage under the Mendip hills, which she 
has named Barley Wood,- and which is equally the 
seat of taste and hospitality. We have had a meet- 
ing here for an auxiliary Bible Society. Many ladies 
went, not indeed to speak, but to hear speaking ; and 
they tell me they were much entertained and inter- 
ested. I honour the zeal of these societies ; but it is 
become a sort of rage, and I suspect outgoes the oc- 
casion. 

TO MRS. J. TAYLOR. 

May, 1S13. 

There is certainly at present a great 

deal of zeal in almost every persuasion ; — certainly 
much more in England, as far as I am able to judge, 
than when I was young. I often speculate upon what 
it will produce, not uniformity of opinion certainly ; 
that is a blessing we seem not destined here to enjoy, 
if indeed it would be a blessing. But will it tend to 
universal toleration and enlarged liberality of thinking ? 
or, with increase of zeal, will the church spirit of big- 
otry revive, and unite with the increasing power of 
government to crush the spirit of research and freedom 
of opinion ? Bible societies, missionary schemes, 
lectures, schools for the poor, are set on foot and 
spread, not so much from a sense of duty as from 
being the real taste of the times ; and I am told that 
Mrs. Siddons' readings are much patronized by the 
evangelical people, as they are called, of fashion, who 
will not enter the doors of a theatre. Would that 



82 CORRESPONDENCE. 

with all this, there could be seen some little touch of 
feeling for the miseries of war, that are desolating the 
earth without end or measure ! One should be glad 
to see some suspicion arise, that it was not consistent 
with the spirit of the Gospel ; but this you do not see 
even in good people. 

Friends at a distance do not want some 

medium of sympathy though they do not meet. I 
have sometimes looked upon new books in that light. 
When I peruse a book of merit to be generally read, 
I feel sure, though not informed of it, that precisely 
the same stream of ideas which is flowing through 
my mind, is flowing through my friend's also ; and 
without any communication, either by word or letter, 
I know that he has admired and criticized, and laugh- 
ed and wept as I have done. 



TO DR. AND MRS. ESTLIN. 

Stoke Newington, Dec. 1813. 

If you ask what / am doing — nothing. 

Pope, I think, somewhere says, " The last years of 
life, like tickets left in the wheel, rise in value." The 
thought is beautiful, but false ; they are of very little 
value, — they are generally past either in struggling 
with pains and infirmities, or in a dreamy kind of ex- 
istence ; no new veins of thought are opened ; no 
young affections springing up ; the ship has taken in 
its lading, whatever it may be, whether precious stones 
or lumber, and lies idly flapping its sails and waiting 
for the wind that must drive it upon the wide ocean. 

Have you seen Lord Byron's new poem. — The 
Bride of Abydos ? and have you read Madame de 
StaePs Germany ? You will find in the latter many 



CORRESPONDENCE. 83 

fine ideas, beautiful sentiments, and entertaining re- 
marks on manners and countries : but in her account 
of Kant and the other German philosophers, she has 
got, I fancy, a little out of her depth. She herself is, 
or affects to be, very devotional ; but her religion 
seems to be almost wholly a matter of imagination, — 
the beau ideal impressed upon us at our birth, along 
with a taste for beauty, for music, &lc. As far as I 
understand her account of the German school, there 
seems to be in many of them a design to reinstate the 
doctrine of innate ideas, which the cold philosophy, 
as they w T ould call it, of Locke, discarded. They 
would like Beattie and Hutcheson better than Paley 
or Priestley. I do not like Lord Byron's poem quite 
so w r ell as his last ; and I cannot see any advantage 
in calling a nightingale bulbul, or a rose gul, except 
to disconcert plain English readers. 



Stoke Newington, Jan. 1814, 
MY DEAR MRS. BEECROFT, 

There are animals that sleep all the winter ; — I 
am, I believe, become one of them : they creep into 
holes during the same season ; — J have confined my- 
self to the fireside of a snug parlour. If, indeed, a 
warm sunshiny day occurs, they sometimes creep out 
of their holes ; so, now and then, have 1. They exist 
in a state of torpor ; — so have I done : the only differ- 
ence being, that / have all the while continued the 
habit of eating and drinking, which, to their advantage, 
they can dispense with. But my mind has certainly 
been asleep all the while ; and whenever I have at- 
tempted to employ it, I have felt an oppression in my 
head which has obliged me to desist. What wonder- 
ful events have passed during the last few months ! 



84 CORRESPONDENCE. 

How new is the very name of peace to us all ; and 
to those of thirty and under, it is a state that, since 
they were able to reflect at all on public affairs, they 
have never known. London seems to have nothing 
to do now, but to give feasts and pop away all the 
spare gun-powder in rockets and feux-de-joie in hon- 
our of its illustrious guests. Everybody has been idle 
since these royal personages came amongst us. It is 
in vain even to bespeak a pair of shoes, — not a man 
will work ; and I imagine Alexander must be greatly 
puzzled, when the concourse in the streets from morn- 
ing till night, shows how many there are that are doing 
nothing, and the shops and manufactures how much 
has been done. 



TO DR. AND MRS. ESTLIN. 

1814. 

My days of travelling are now nearly over ; yet I 
find a little variety as necessary, perhaps, to relieve 
the tedium of life, as once it was to recruit from its 
toils and avocations. I do not know how it is with 
you at Bristol, but in most places there has been late- 
ly a migration into France of almost all who could 
command money and time. I was amused with the 
contrast between a lively pleasant-tempered man and 
a poco curante. " How do you like France ? " said 
I to the first. " I have spent," said he, " seven weeks 
of uninterrupted happiness." "How do you like 
France?" to the second. "I have been there, be- 
cause one must go, one is ashamed not to have been, 
it is a thing over." " A lively nation ?" " Manners 
quite spoiled, no agreeable company." " It is pos- 
sible they may not be partial to the English just now, 
as we have so lately been with fire and sword into 



CORRESPONDENCE. 85 

their territory : — but the museums?" "Valuable to 
be sure ; but they do not properly belong to Paris." 
" The theatres, sir ? " " Now and then, when Talma 
acts : but to visit all their little paltry theatres, and 
every evening, as some do, I had rather sit at home 
in my chamber and read." And so ended my dia- 
logue with the poco curante, Not with such indiffer- 
ence, but with the strong feelings which you who 
witnessed the destruction of the Bastille can appreciate, 

Mr. says he should abhor going to Paris. As 

to the ladies who go, they think of nothing but smug- 
gling lace and silk shawls. 



MY DEAR MRS. ESTLIN, 

I have just been reading, as probably you have 
also, six close volumes of Miss Seward's letters, which, 
she informs us, was only a twelfth part of her corres- 
pondence in, I think, twenty years. I have also been 

reading a letter of the poet M 's to my brother, 

in which, apologizing for his long silence, he says, " I 
verily believe, that if I had been an antediluvian, I 
could have let a hundred years pass between every 
letter, and feel the most violent twinges of conscience 
every day of that century for my omission, without 
their working any reformation in that respect." Now 
I look upon myself to be between both these charac- 
ters, — to which I approximate most, I must leave you 
to determine. 

Everybody has been abroad this uncommonly fine 
summer, but my brother and sister and myself. I 
spent one day only at Hampstead, where I met Wal- 
ter Scott, the lion of this London season, and one 
day at Chigwell. The road to Chigwell is through a 
part of Hainault Forest ; and we stopped to look at 
Fairlop oak, one of the largest in England ; a com- 

VOL. II. 8 



86 CORRESPONDENCE. 

plete ruin, but a noble ruin, which it is impossible to 
see without thinking of Cowper's beautiful lines, 
" Who lived, when thou wast such." The immovea- 
ble rocks and mountains present us rather with an 
idea of eternity than of long life. There they are, 
and there they have been before the birth of nations. 
The tops of the everlasting hills have been seen cov- 
ered with snow from the earliest records of time. But 
a tree, that has life and growth like ourselves, that, 
like ourselves, was once small and feeble, that cer- 
tainly some time began to be, — to see it attain a size 
so enormous, and in its bulk and its slow decay bear 
record of the generations it has outlived, — this brings 
our comparative feebleness strongly in view. " Man 
passeth away, and where is he ? " while " the oak 
of our fathers " will be the oak of their children and 
their children. 



TO MRS. FLETCHER. 

Stoke Newington, June, 1814. 

What do I think of the French ! — In the first 
place, it requires some time before one can think 
at all, events succeed each other with such astonishing 
rapidity. The constitution held out to the king's 
acceptance was indeed all one can wish, — the princi- 
ples *of liberty were carried further 'than even in 
ours? — but you see he has not signed it ; and if he 
had, it is a jest to talk of a constitution, when three 
or four foreign armies are in the kingdom. 

France, proud France, gallant France, is a con- 
quered country. I do not think we yet know her 
real inclinations ; convulsed by a revolution, tyrannized 
over by a despot, and owing her deliverance to her 
verv enemies, how she is humbled, how much she 



CORRESPONDENCE. 87 

has suffered ; but how much she has inflicted ! The 
French, however, have a better chance for happiness 
with the mild imbecility of the Bourbons, than with 
Napoleon. 

This was written a week ago : and now Spain — 
Spain has disappointed all our hopes : " Down with 
the Cortes, — up with the- Inquisition ! " and, as at 
Naples some years ago, the few fine spirits who would 
have rejoiced in a better order of things, will be con- 
signed to dungeons. I do not know what we can 
gather from the contemplation of all these revolutions, 
but this ; that the concerns and destinies of all the 
world are too high for us ; that w r e must wait the 
winding up of the drama, and be satisfied in promoting 
and enjoying the happiness of our own little circle 

The three persons who have most engaged the 
attention of London societies this year, have been wo- 
men : — Miss Edgeworth, Madame de Stael, and now 
the Duchess of Oldenburg, who shows, they say, a 
most rational and unsated curiosity. But kings and 
emperors are now appearing on the stage, and the 
lesser lights must " pale their ineffectual fires." Dear 
madam, will not you and Miss F. come to London to 
see all these sights ? You are much mistaken if you 
think, as you seem to do, that you shall find us anx- 
iously speculating about the liberties of Europe. We 
shall be squeezing to get a sight of Alexander, and 
taking tickets for fetes, and looking at the prince's 
fireworks, and criticizing the Oldenburg hat, and 
picking up anecdotes to shine with in the next party. 
Shall I be equally mistaken, or shall I not, when I 
suppose that you in Edinburgh are deep in mathemat- 
ics and metaphysics with Dugald Stewart ? I want to 
know how his work is relished. I am glad he has 
spoken a good word for final causes, the search for 
which, under the guidance of judgment and impartial- 



88 CORRESPONDENCE. 

ity, certainly assists investigation, as truly as it is the 
reward of it. 



TO MRS. FLETCHER. 

Stoke Newington, August, 1814. 

What an alteration a few w 7 eeks has made 

in London ! If you but crossed the street a month ago, 
you had a chance of meeting a prince or an emperor ; 
and now it is empty beyond the usual emptiness of 
summer, and everybody you meet has been, or is 
planning to go, across the Channel. I am sorry to 
say, that among my female acquaintance the joy of 
bringing home, cleverly concealed, shawls, lace, &£c, 
seems to dwell more upon the fancy than museums of 
art or new scenes of nature ; and truly, some of the 
young men seem better able to criticise French cook- 
ery than French conversation, or the Venus and 
Apollo. Is there not something strange and rather 
revolting in speaking of the French, as most have 
done for these twenty years past, with the utmost 
abhorrence and contempt, — and pouring ourselves 
over their country the moment it is accessible, to mix 
in their parties and bring home their fashions ? . . . . 
We have been full fed with novels lately, and shall be 
with poems. Think of a thick quarto of 's, en- 
titled Fragments, being only a taste of the second part 
of a poem, which I suppose he means to give us some 
time or other. I should like to supply him with a 
motto : — " And of the fragments there were taken up 
twelve baskets full" 



CORRESPONDENCE. 89 



TO MRS. BEECROFT. 

Stoke Newington, Nov. 14, 1818. 

Our tourists are mostly now returned. Such 
numbers have resided more or less abroad, that I 
cannot help thinking the intercourse must influence in 
some degree the national manners, which I find by 
Madame de Stael, are not yet to the taste of our 
neighbours. They allow us to be respectable, but 
they plainly intimate they do not think us amiable. 
When I read such censures, I cannot help saying in 
my mind to the author, — I wish you knew such a one, 
and such a one, of my acquaintance ; I am sure you 
could not but love them. — Yet, after all, I fear we 
must acknowledge something about us dry, cold, and 
reserved ; more afraid of censure, than gratified by 
notice ; very capable of steadiness in important pur- 
suits, but not happy in filling up the pauses and in- 
tervals of life with ingenious trifles and spontaneous, 
social hilarity 

It seems to me that there is more room for authors 
in history than in any other department. It is con- 
tinually growing. It is like a tree, the dead leaves 
and branches of which are continually pruned and 
cleared away, and fresh green shoots arising. How- 
much less interesting since the French Revolution are 
the glories and conquests of Louis XIV. ! What is the 
whole field of ancient history, which knew T no sea but 
the Mediterranean, to the vast continent of America, 
with its fresh and opening glories ! Will they be wise 
by our experience, peaceable, moderate, virtuous ? 
No : they will be learned by our learning, but not 
wise by our experience. Each country, as each man, 
must buy his own experience, 
8* 



dO CORRESPONDENCE. 



TO MRS. TAYLOR. 

Stoke Newington, Dec. 8, 1818. 

I will write, now my dear friend is better, is re- 
covering, is, I hope, in a fair way to be soon quite 
well, and all herself again ; and she will accept, and 
so will Mr. T. and Mrs. R. my warmest congratula- 
tions. To tell you how anxious we have been, would, 
I trust, be superfluous, or how much joy we have 
felt in being relieved from that anxiety. It is pleasant 
to have some one to share pleasure with ; and though 
I could have had that satisfaction in a degree with 
every one who knows you, it is more particularly 
agreeably to me at this time to have your dear Sarah 
to sympathize with and talk to about you. Among 
other things we say, that you must not let mind wear 
out body, which I suspect you are a little inclined to 
do. Mind is often very hard upon his humble yoke- 
fellow, sometimes speaking contemptuously of her, 
as being of a low, mean family, in comparison with 
himself; often abridging her food or natural rest for 
his whims. Many a headache has he given her, 
when but for him, she would be quietly resting in her 
bed. Sometimes he fancies that she hangs as a dead 
weight upon him, and impedes all his motions ; yet it 
is well known, that though he gives himself such airs 
of superiority, he can in fact do nothing without her; 
and since, however they came together, they are 
united for better for worse, it is for his interest as 
well as hers, that she should be nursed and cherished, 
,and taken care of. — And so ends my sermon. 



CORRESPONDENCE- 91 



TO MISS. 



Stoke N.nvington, Oct. 25, 1823. 

The enigma you do me the honour to 

ask for, will accompany this ; but I have first to find 
it ; for though I have looked a good deal, I have not 
yet been able to lay my hands on it. I beg to make 
proviso, that if I should want myself to insert it in any 
publication, 1 may be at liberty, to do it. Though', 
trulv, that is not very likely : for well do I feel one 
faculty after another withdrawing, and the shades of 
evening closing fast around me ; and be it so ! What 
does life offer at past eighty (at which venerable age 
I arrived one day last June) ; and I believe you will 
allow that there is not much of new, of animating, of 
inviting, to be met with after that age. For my own 
part, I only find that many things I knew, I have for- 
gotten ; many things I thought I knew, I find I know 
nothing about ; some things I know, I have found not 
worth knowing ; and some things I would give — O 
what would one not give to know ? are beyond the 
reach of human ken. Well, I believe this is what 
may be called prosing, and you can make much better 
use of your time than to read it. 

I saw yesterday two boys, modern Greeks in the 
costume of their country, introduced by Mr. Bowring, 
who has the charge of them — " du Grec — ah, ma 
sceur, du Grec ; Us parJent du Grec ! " I have been 
reading one or two American novels lately. They 
are very well, but I do not wish them to write novels 
yet. Let them explore and describe their new coun- 
trv ; let them record the actions of their Washington, 
the purest character perhaps that history has to boast 
of; let them enjoy their free, their unexpensive gov- 
ernment, number their rising towns, and boast that 
persecution does not set her bloody foot in any corner 



92 CORRESPONDENCE. 

of their extensive territories. Then let them kindle 
into poetry ; but not yet, — not till the more delicate 
shades and nicer delineations of life are familiar to 
them, — let them descend to novels. But, tempted 
by writing to you, I am running on till my eyes are 
tired, and perhaps you too. Compliments to Mrs. 

, and all your family. If I find the riddle, I will 

send it to you ; meantime I am, with the truest esteem 
and friendship, 

Your affectionate friend. 



MISCELLANEOUS PIECES. 



MISCELLANEOUS PIECES. 



THE HILL OF SCIENCE. 

A VISION. 



In that season of the year when the serenity of the 
sky, the various fruits which cover the ground, the 
discoloured foliage of the trees, and all the sweet, but 
fading graces of inspiring autumn, open the mind to 
benevolence, and dispose it for contemplation ; I was 
wandering in a beautiful and romantic country, till 
curiosity began to give way to weariness ; and I sat 
me down on the fragment of a rock overgrown with 
moss, where the rustling of the falling leases, the 
dashing of waters, and the hum of the distant city, 
soothed my mind into the most perfect tranquillity, 
and sleep insensibly stole upon me, as 1 was indulging 
the agreeable reveries which the objects around me 
naturally inspired. 

I immediately found myself in a vast extended 
plain, in the middle of which arose a mountain higher 
than I had before any conception of. It was covered 
with a multitude of people, chiefly youth ; many of 
whom pressed forwards with the liveliest expression of 
ardour in their countenance, though the way was in 



96 THE HILL OF SCIENCE. 

many places steep and difficult. I observed, that 
those who had but just begun to climb the hill, thought 
themselves not far from the top ; but as they proceed- 
ed, new hills were continually rising to their view ; 
and the summit of the highest they could before dis- 
cern, seemed but the foot of another, till the mountain 
at length appeared to lose itself in the clouds. As I 
was gazing on these things with astonishment, my 
good Genius suddenly appeared. 'The mountain 
before thee,' said he, ' is the hill of science. On 
the top is the temple of Truth, whose head is above 
the clouds, and whose face is covered with a veil of 
pure light. Observe the progress of her votaries ; be 
silent, and attentive. 5 

I saw that the only regular approach to the mountain 
was by a gate, called the gate of languages. It was 
kept by a woman of a pensive and thoughtful appear- 
ance, whose lips were continually moving, as though she 
repeated something to herself. Her name was memory. 
On entering this first enclosure, I was stunned with a 
confused murmur of jarring voices, and dissonant 
sounds ; which increased upon me to such a degree, 
that I w 7 as utterly confounded, and could compare the 
noise to nothing but the confusion of tongues at Babel. 
The road was also rough and stony, and rendered 
more difficult by heaps of rubbish, continually tumbled 
down from the higher parts of the mountain ; and by 
broken ruins of ancient buildings, which the travellers 
were obliged to climb over at every step ; insomuch 
that many, disgusted with so rough a beginning, turned 
back, and attempted the mountain no more : while 
others having conquered this difficulty, hud no spirits 
to ascend further, and sitting down on some fragment 
of the rubbish, harangued the multitude below with 
the greatest marks of importance and self-complacency. 

About half way up the hill, I observed on each side 



A VISION. 97 

the path a thick forest covered with continual fogs, 
and cut out into labyrinths, cross alleys, and serpentine 
walks, entangled with thorns and briars. This was 
called the wood of error : and I heard the voices of 
many who were lost up and down in it, calling to one 
another, and endeavouring in vain to extricate them- 
selves. The trees in many places shot their boughs 
over the path, and a thick mist often rested on it ; yet 
never so much, but that it was discernible by the light 
which beamed from the countenance of Truth. 

In the pleasantest part of the mountain w T ere placed 
the bowers of the Muses, whose office it was to cheer 
the spirits of the travellers, ?nd encourage their faint- 
ing steps with songs from their divine harps. Not far 
from hence were the fields of fiction, filled with a 
variety of wild flowers springing up in the greatest 
luxuriance, of richer scents and brighter colours than 
I had observed in any other climate. And near them 
was the dark walk of allegory, so artificially shaded, 
that the light at noon-day was never stronger than that 
of a bright moonshine. This gave it a pleasingly 
romantic air for those who delighted in contemplation. 
The paths and alleys were perplexed with intricate 
windings, and w T ere all terminated with the statue of a 
Grace, a Virtue, or a Muse. 

After I had observed these things, I turned my 
eyes towards the multitudes who were climbing the 
steep ascent, and observed amongst them a youth of 
a lively look, a piercing eye, and something fiery and 
irregular in all his motions. His name was genius. 
He darted like an eagle up the mountain, and left his 
companions gazing after him with envy and admiration : 
but his progress was unequal, and interrupted by a 
thousand caprices. When Pleasure warbled in the 
valley, he mingled in her train. When Pride beckon- 
ed towards the precipice, he ventured to the tottering 

vol. ii. 9 



98 THE HILL OF SCIENCE. 

edge. He delighted in devious and untried paths ; 
and made so many excursions from the road, that his 
feebler companions often outstripped him. I observed 
that the Muses beheld him with partiality ; but Truth 
often frowned and turned aside her face. While 
Genius was thus wasting his "strength in eccentric 
flights, I saw a person of a very different appearance, 
named application. He crept along with a slow 
and unremitting pace, his eyes fixed on the top of the 
mountain, patiently removing every stone that obstruct- 
ed his way, till he saw most of those below him who 
had at first derided his slow and toilsome progress. 
Indeed there were few who ascended the hill with 
equal and uninterrupted steadiness ; for, beside the 
difficulties of the way, they were continually solicited 
to turn aside by a numerous crowd of Appetites, Pas- 
sions, and Pleasures, whose importunity, when they 
had once complied with, they became less and less 
able to resist ; and, though they often returned to the 
path, the asperities of the road were more severely 
felt, the hill appeared more steep and rugged, the 
fruits which w r ere wholesome and refreshing, seemed 
harsh and ill-tasted, their sight grew T dim, and their 
feet tript at every little obstruction. 

I saw, with some surprize, that the Muses, whose 
business was to cheer and encourage those who were 
toiling up the ascent, would often sing in the bowers 
of Pleasure, and accompany those who were enticed 
away at the call of the Passions. They accompanied 
them, however, but a little way, and always forsook 
them when they lost sight of the hill. Their tyrants 
then doubled their chains upon the unhappy captives, 
and led them away without resistance to the cells of 
Ignorance, or the mansions of Misery. Amongst the 
innumerable seducers, w T ho were endeavouring to 
draw away the votaries of Truth from the path of 



A VISION. 99 

Science, there was one so little formidable in her ap- 
pearance, and so gentle and languid in her attempts, 
that I should scarcely have taken notice of her, but 
for the numbers she had imperceptibly loaded with 
her chains. Indolence (for so she was called), far 
from proceeding to open hostilities, did not attempt 
to turn their feet out of the path, but contented her- 
self with retarding their progress ; and the purpose 
she could not force them to abandon, she persuaded 
them to delay. Her touch had a power like that of 
the Torpedo, which withered the strength of those who 
came within its influence. Her unhappy captives still 
turned their faces towards the temple, and always 
hoped to arrive there ; but the ground seemed to slide 
from beneath their feet, and they found themselves at 
the bottom before they suspected that they had chang- 
ed their place. The placid serenity which at first 
appeared in their countenance, changed by degrees 
into a melancholy languor, which was tinged with 
deeper and deeper gloom as they glided down the 
stream of insignificance ; a dark and sluggish water, 
which is curled by no breeze, and enlivened by no 
murmur, till it falls into a dead sea, where the startled 
passengers are awakened by the shock, and the next 
moment buried in the gulph of oblivion. 

Of all the unhappy deserters from the paths of 
Science, none seemed less able to return than the follow- 
ers of Indolence. The captives of Appetite and Pas- 
sion could often seize the moment when their tyrants 
were languid or asleep, to escape from their enchant- 
ment ; but the dominion of Indolence was constant and 
unremitted, and seldom resisted till resistance was 
in vain. 

After contemplating these things, I turned my eyes 
towards the top of the mountain, where the air was 
always pure and exhilarating, the path shaded with 



100 THE HILL OF SCIENCE. 

laurels and other evergreens, and the effulgence which 
beamed from the face of the Goddess seemed to shed 
a glory round her votaries. Happy, said I, are they 
who are permitted to ascend the mountain ! — but 
while I was pronouncing this exclamation with un- 
common ardour, I saw standing beside me a form of 
diviner features and a more benign radiance. Hap- 
pier, said she, are those whom virtue conducts to the 
mansions of Content ! — What, said I, does Virtue then 
reside in the vale ? — I am found said she, in the vale, 
and I illuminate the mountain. I cheer the cottager 
at his toil, and inspire the sage at his meditation. I 
mingle in the crowd of cities, and bless the hermit in 
his cell. I have a temple in every heart that owns 
my influence ; and to him that wishes for me I am al- 
ready present. Science may raise you to eminence, 
but I alone can guide you to felicity ! While the God- 
dess was thus speaking, I stretched out my arms to- 
wards her with a vehemence which broke my slum- 
bers. The chill dews were falling around me, and 
the shades of evening stretched over the landscape,. 
I hastened homeward, and resigned the night to silence 
and meditation. 



101 
ON ROMANCES. 

AN IMITATION. 



Of all the multifarious productions which the efforts 
of superior genius, or the labours of scholastic indus- 
try, have crowded upon the world, none are perused 
with more insatiable avidity, or disseminated with more 
universal applause, than the narrations of feigned events, 
descriptions of imaginary scenes, and delineations of 
ideal characters. The celebrity of other authors is 
confined within very narrow limits. The Geometri- 
cian and Divine, the Antiquary and the Critic how- 
ever distinguished by uncontested excellence, can 
only hope to please those whom a conformity of dis- 
position has engaged in similar pursuits ; and must be 
content to be regarded by the rest of the world with 
the smile of frigid indifference, or the contemptuous 
sneer of self-sufficient folly. The collector of shells 
and the anatomist of insects is little inclined to enter 
into theological disputes : the Divine is not apt to 
regard with veneration the uncouth diagrams and 
tedious calculations of the Astronomer : the man 
whose life has been consumed in adjusting the disputes 
of lexicographers, or elucidating the learning of an- 
tiquity, cannot easily bend his thoughts to recent tran- 
sactions, or readily interest himself in the unimpor- 
tant history of his contemporaries : and the Cit, who 
knows no business but acquiring wealth, and no pleas- 
ure but displaying it, has a heart equally shut up to 
argument and fancy, to the batteries of syllogism, and 
9* 



102 ON ROMANCES. 

the arrows of wit. To the writer of fiction alone, 
every ear is open, and every tongue lavish of applause ; 
curiosity sparkles in every eye, and every bosom is 
throbbing with concern. 

It is, however, easy to account for this enchant- 
ment. To follow the chain of perplexed ratiocination, 
to view with critical skill the airy architecture of 
systems, to unravel the web of sophistry, or weigh the 
merits of opposite hypotheses, requires perspicacity, 
and presupposes learning. Works of this kind, there- 
fore, are not so well adapted to the generality of 
readers as familiar and colloquial composition ; for 
few can reason, but all can feel ; and many who can- 
not enter into an argument, may yet listen to a tale. 
The writer of Romance has even an advantage over 
those who endeavour to amuse by the play of fancy ; 
who, from the fortuitous collison of dissimilar ideas 
produce the scintillations of wit ; or by the vivid glow 
of poetical imagery delight the imagination with 
colours of ideal radiance. The attraction of the mag- 
net is only exerted upon similar particles ; and to 
taste the beauties of Homer, it is requisite to partake 
his fire ; but every one can relish the author who rep- 
resents common life, because every one can refer to 
the originals from whence his ideas were taken. He 
relates events to which all are liable, and applies to 
passions which all have felt. The gloom of solitude, 
the languor of inaction, the corrosions of disappoint- 
ment, and the toil of thought, induce men to step aside 
from the rugged road of life, and wander in the fairy 
land of fiction ; where every bank is sprinkled with 
flowers, and every gale loaded with perfume ; where 
every event introduces a hero, and every cottage is 
inhabited by a Grace. Invited by these flattering 
scenes, the student quits the investigation of truth, in 
which he perhaps meets with no less fallacy, to qx 



AN IMITATION. 103 

hilarate his mind with new ideas, more agreeable, and 
more easily attained : the busy relnx their attention by 
desultory reading, and smooth the agitation of a ruffled 
mind with images of peace, tranquillity, and pleasure : 
the idle and the gay relieve the listbssness of leisure, 
and diversify the round of life by a rapid series of 
events pregnant with rapture* and astonishment; and 
the pensive solitary fills up the vacuities of his heart 
by interesting himself in the fortunes of imaginary be- 
ings, and forming connexions with ideal excellence. 
It is, indeed, no ways extraordinary that the mind 
should be charmed by fancy, and attracted by pleas- 
ure ; but that we should listen with complacence to 
the groans of misery, and delight to view the exacer- 
bations of complicated anguish, that we should choose 
to chill the bosom with imaginary fears, and dim the 
eyes with fictitious sorrow, seems a kind of paradox 
of the heart, and can only be credited because it is 
universally felt. Various are the hypotheses which 
have been formed to accouut for the disposition of the 
mind to riot in this species of intellectual luxury. 
Some have imagined that we are induced to acquiesce 
with greater patience in our own lot, by beholding 
pictures of life, tinged with deeper horrors, and load- 
ed with more excruciating calamities ; as, to a person 
suddenly emerging out of a dark room, the faintest 
glimmering of twilight assumes a lustre from the con- 
trasted gloom. Others, with yet deeper refinement, 
suppose that we take upon ourselves this burden of 
adscititious sorrows, in order to feast upon the con- 
sciousness of our own virtue. We commiserate others, 
say they, that we may applaud ourselves ; and the 
sigh of compassionate sympathy is always followed 
by the gratulations of self-complacent esteem. But 
surely they who would thus reduce the sympathetic 
emotions of pity to a system of refined selfishness, have 



104 ON ROMANCES. 

but ill attended to the genuine feelings of humanity* 
It would, however, exceed the limits of this paper, 
should I attempt an accurate investigation of these 
sentiments. But let it be remembered, that we are 
more attracted by those scenes which interest our 
passions or gratify our curiosity, than those which de- 
light our fancy : and, so far from being indifferent to 
the miseries of others, we are, at the time, totally . 
regardless of our own. And let not those on whom 
the hand of Time has impressed the characters of 
oracular wisdom, censure with too much acrimony 
productions, which are thus calculated to please the 
imagination, and interest the heart. They teach us 
to think, by inuring us to feel ; they ventilate the 
mind by sudden gusts of passion : and prevent the 
stagnation of thought, by a fresh infusion of dissimi- 
lar ideas. 



105 



SELAMA. 



AN IMITATION OF OSSIAN. 



What soft voice of sorrow is in the breeze ? what 
lovely sun-beam of beauty trembling on the rock ? Its 
bright hair is bathed in showers ; and it looks faint 
and dim, through its mist on the rushy plain. Why 
art thou alone, maid of the mournful look ? The cold 
dropping rain is on the rocks of Torlena, the blast of 
the desart lifts thy yellow locks. Let thy steps be in 
the hall of shells, by the blue winding stream of Clutha : 
let the harp tremble beneath thy fingers \ and the sons 
of heroes listen to the music of songs. 

Shall my steps be in the hall of shells, and the 
aged low in the dust ? The father of Selama is low 
behind this rock, on his bed of withered leaves : the 
thistle's down is strewed over him by the wind, and 
mixes with his grey hair. Thou art fallen, chief of 
Etha ! without thy fame ; and there is none to revenge 
thy death. But thy daughter will sit, pale, beside 
thee, till she sinks, a faded flower, upon thy lifeless 
form. Leave the maid of Clutha, son of the stranger ! 
in the red eye of her tears ! 

How fell the car-borne Connal, blue-eyed mourner 
of the rock ? Mine arm is not weakened in battle ; 
nor my sword without its fame. 

Connal was a fire in his youth, that lightened 
through fields of renown : but the flame weakly glim- 
mered through grey ashes of age. His course wa* 



106 SELAMA. 

like a star moving through the heavens : it walketh 
m brightness, but leaveth no track behind ; its silver 
path cannot be found in the sky. The strength of 
Etha is rolled away like a tale of other years ; and 
his eyes have failed. Feeble and dark, he sits in his 
hall, and hears the distant tread of a stranger's steps ; 
the haughty steps of Tonthormo, from the roar of 
Duvranno's echoing stream. He stood in the hall 
like a pillar of darkness, on whose top is the red 
beam of fire : wide rolled his eyes beneath the gloomy 
arch of his bent brow ; as flames in two caves of a 
rock, over-hung with the black pine of the desart. 
They had rolled on Selama, and he asked the daugh- 
ter of Connal. Tonthormo ! breaker of shields ! 
thou art a meteor of death in war, whose fiery hair 
streams on the clouds, and the nations are withered 
beneath its path. Dwell, Tonthormo ! amidst thy 
hundred hills, and listen to thy torrent's roar ; but the 
soft sigh of the virgins is with the chief of Crono ; 
Hidallan is the dream of Selama, the dweller of her 
secret thoughts. A rushing storm in war, a breeze 
that sighs over the fallen foe ; pleasant are thy words 
of peace, and thy songs at the mossy brook. Thy 
smiles are like the moon-beams trembling on the 
waves. Thy voice is the gale of summer that whis- 
pers among the reeds of the lake, and awakens the 
harp of Moilena with all its lightly-trembling strings. 
Oh that thy calm light was around me ! my soul should 
not fear the gloomy chief of Duvranno. He came 
with his stately steps. — My shield is before thee, maid 
of my love ! a wall of shelter from the lightning of 
swords. They fought. Tonthormo bends in all his 
pride, before the arm of youth. But a voice was in 
the breast of Hidallan, shall I slay the love of Selama I 
Selama dwells in thy dark bosom, shall my steel en- 
ter ? t-ive, thou storm of war ! He gave again his 



AN IMITATION OF OSSIAN. 107 

sword. But, careless as he strode away, rage arose 
in the troubled thoughts of the vanquished. He 
marked his time, and sidelong pierced the heart of 
the generous son of Semo. His fair hair is spread on 
the dust, his eyes are bent on the trembling beam of 
Clutha. Farewell, light of my soul ! They are 
closed in darkness. Feeble wast thou then, my 
father ! and in vain didst thou call for help. Thy 
grey locks are scatterred, as a wreath of snow on the 
top of a withered trunk ; which the boy brushes away 
with his staff; and careless singeth as he walks. 
Who shall defend thee, my daughter ; said the broken 
voice of Etna's chief. Fair flower of the desart ! 
the tempest shall rush over thee ; and thou shalt be 
low beneath the foot of the savage son of prey. But 
I will wither, my father, on thy tomb. Weak and 
alone I dwell amidst my tears, there is no young war- 
rior to lift the spear, no brother of lov# ! Oh that 
mine arm were strong ! I would rush amidst the bat- 
tle. Selama has no friend ! 

But Selama has a friend, said the kindling soul of 
Reuthamir. I will fight thy battles, lovely daughter 
of kings ; and the sun of Duvranno shall set in blood. 
But when I return in peace, and the spirits of thy foes 
are on my sword, meet me with thy smiles of love, 
maid of Clutha ! with thy slow-rolling eyes. Let 
the soft sound of thy steps be heard in my halls, that 
the mother of Reuthamir may rejoice. Whence, she 
will say, is this beam of the distant land ? Thou shalt 
dwell in her bosom. 

My thoughts are with him who is low in the dust, 
son of Cormac ! But lift the spear, thou friend of the 
unhappy ! the light of my soul may return. 

He strode in his rattling arms. Tall, in a gloomy 
forest, stood the surly strength of Duvranno. Gleam- 
ing behind the dark trees was his broad shield ; like 



108 SELAMA. 

the moon when it rises in blood, and the dusky clouds 
sail low, and heavy, athwart its path. Thoughts, like 
the troubled ocean, rushed over his soul, and he struck, 
with his spear, the sounding pine. Starting, he mixed 
in battle with the chief of woody Morna. Long was 
the strife of arms; and the giant sons of the forest 
trembled at their strokes. At length Tonthormo fell 
— The sword of Reuthamir waved, a blue flame, 
around him. He bites the ground in rage. His 
blood is poured, a dark red stream, into Oithona's 
trembling waves. Joy brightened in the soul of Reuth- 
amir ; when a young warrior came, with his forward 
spear. He moved in the light of beauty ; but his 
words were haughty and fierce. Is Tonthormo fallen 
in blood, the friend of my early years ? Die, thou 
dark-souled chief! for never shall Selama be thine, 
the maid of his love. Lovely shone her eyes, through 
tears, in the hall of her grief, when I stood by the 
chief of Duvranno, in the rising strife of Clutha. 

Retire, thou swelling voice of pride ! thy spear is 
light as the taper reed. Pierce the roes of the desert ; 
and call the hunter to the feast of songs, but speak not 
of the daughter of Connal, son of the feeble arm ! 
Selama is the love of heroes. 

Try thy strength with the feeble arm, said the ris- 
ing pride of youth. Thou shalt vanish like a cloud of 
mist before the sun, when he looks abroad in the 
power of his brightness, and the storms are rolled 
away from before his face. 

But thou thyself didst fall before Reuthamir, in all 
thy boasting words. As a tall ash of the mountain, 
when the tempest takes its green head and lays it 
level on the plain. 

Come from thy secret cave, Selama ! thy foes are 
silent and dark. Thou dove that hidest in the clefts 
of tfye rocks ! the storm is over and past. Come 



AN IMITATION OF OSSIAN. 109 

from thy rock, Selama ! and give thy white hand to 
the chief who never fled from the face of glory, in all 
its terrible brightness. 

She gave her hand, but it was trembling and cold, 
for the spear was deep in her side. Red, beneath 
her mail, the current of crimson wandered down her 
white breast, as the track of blood on Cromla's moun- 
tains of snow, when the wounded deer slowly crosses 
the heath, and the hunters cries are in the breeze. 
Blest be the spear of Reuthamir ! said the faint voice 
of the lovely, I feel it cold in my heart. Lay me by 
the son of Semo. Why should I know another love ? 
Raise the tomb of the aged, his thin form shall rejoice, 
as he sails on a low-hung cloud, and guides the win- 
try storm. Open your airy halls, spirits of my love ! 

And have I quenched the light which was pleasant 
to my soul ? said the chief of Morna. My steps 
moved in darkness, why were the words of strife in 
thy tale ? Sorrow, like a cloud, comes over my soul, 
and shades the joy of mighty deeds. Soft be your 
rest in the narrow house, children of grief! The 
breeze in die long whistling grass shall not awaken 
you. The tempest shall rush over you, and the bul- 
rush bow its head upon your tomb, but silence shall 
dwell in your habitation ; long repose, and the peace 
of years to come. The voice of the bard shall raise 
your remembrance in the distant land, and mingle your 
tale of woe with the murmur of other streams. Often 
shall the harp send forth a mournful sound, and the 
tear dwell in the soft eyes of the daughters of Morna. 

Such were the words of Reuthamir, while he raised 
the tombs of the fallen. Sad were his steps towards 
the towers of his fathers, as musing he crossed the 
dark heath of Lena, and struck, at times, the thistle's 
beard. 

VOL. II, 10 



110 



AGAINST INCONSISTENCY IN OUR 
EXPECTATIONS. 



" What is more reasonable, than that they who 
take pains for any thing, should get most in that par- 
ticular for which they take pains r They have taken 
pains for power, you for right principles ; they for 
riches, you for a proper use of the appearances of 
things : see whether they have the advantage of you 
in that for which you have taken pains, and which 
they neglect : If they are in power, and you not, why 
will not you speak the truth to yourself, that you do 
nothing for the sake of power, but that they do every 
thing ? No, but since I take care to have right prin- 
ciples, it is more reasonable that I should have power. 
Yes, in respect to what you take care about, your 
principles. But give up to others the things in which 
they have taken more care than you. Else it is just 
as if, because you have right principles, you should 
think it fit that when you shoot an arrow, you should 
hit the mark better than an archer, or that you should 
forge better than a smith." 

Carter's Epictetus. 

As most of the unhappiness in the world arises 
rather from disappointed desires, than from positive 
evil, it is of the utmost consequence to attain just 
notions of the laws and order of the universe, that we 
may not vex ourselves with fruitless wishes, or give 
way to groundless and unreasonable discontent. The 



AGAINST INCONSISTENCY. Ill 

laws of natural philosophy, indeed, are tolerably un- 
derstood and attended to ; and though we may suffer 
inconveniences, we are seldom disappointed in conse- 
quence of them. No man expects to preserve orange- 
trees in the open air through an English winter ; or 
when he has planted an acorn, to see it become a 
large oak in a few months. The mind of man naturally 
yields to necessity ; and our wishes soon subside when 
we see the impossibility of their being gratified. Now, 
upon an accurate inspection, we shall find, in the moral 
government of the world, and the order of the intel- 
lectual system, laws as determinate, fixed, and invari- 
able as any in Newton's Principia. The progress of 
vegetation is not more certain than the growth of habit ; 
nor is the power of attraction more clearly proved, 
than the force of affection or the influence of example. 
The man therefore who has well studied the operations 
of nature in mind as well as matter, will acquire a 
certain moderation and equity in his claims upon 
Providence. He never will be disappointed either in 
himself or others. He will act with precision ; and 
expect that effect and that alone from his efforts, which 
they are naturally adapted to produce. For want of 
this, men of merit and integrity often censure the dis- 
positions of providence for suffering characters they 
despise, to run away with advantages which, they yet 
know, are purchased by such means as a high and 
noble spirit could never submit to. If you refuse to 
pay the price, why expect the purchase ? We should 
consider this world as a great mart of commerce, 
where fortdne exposes to our view various commod- 
ities, riches, ease, tranquillity, fame, integrity, knowl- 
edge. Every thing is marked at a settled price. Our 
time, our labour, our ingenuity, is so much ready 
money which we are to lay out to the best advantage. 
Examine, compare, choose, reject : but stand to your 



112 AGAINST INCONSISTENCY 

own judgment ; and do not, like children, when you 
have purchased one thing, repine that you do not pos- 
sess another which you did not purchase. Such is 
the force of well-regulated industry, that a steady and 
vigorous exertion of our faculties, directed to one end, 
will generally insure success. Would you, for instance, 
be rich ? Do you think that single point worth the 
sacrificing every thing else to ? You may then be 
rich. Thousands have become so from the lowest 
beginnings by toil, and patient diligence, and attention 
to the minutest articles of expense and profit. But 
you must give up the pleasures of leisure, of a vacant 
mind, of a free, unsuspicious temper. If you preserve 
your integrity, it must be a coarse-spun and vulgar 
honesty. Those high and lofty notions of morals 
which you brought with you from the schools, must be 
considerably lowered, and mixed with the baser alloy 
of a jealous and worldly-minded prudence. You must 
learn to do hard, if not unjust things ; and for the nice 
embarrassments of a delicate and ingenuous spirit, it 
is necessary for you to get rid of them as fast as pos- 
sible. You must shut your heart against the Muses, 
and be content to feed your understanding with plain, 
household truths. In short, you must not attempt to 
enlarge your ideas, or polish your taste, or refine your 
sentiments ; but must keep on in one beaten track, 
without turning aside either to the right hand or to the 
left. " But I cannot submit to drudgery like this — 
I feel a spirit above it." 'T is well ; be above it then : 
only do not repine that you are not rich. 

Is knowledge the pearl of price ? That too may 
be purchased — by steady application, and long solitary 
hours of study and reflection. Bestow these, and 
you shall be wise. " But," says the man of letters, 
" what a hardship is it that many an illiterate fellow who 
cannot construe the motto of the arms on his co$ch, 



IN OUR EXPECTATIONS. 113 

shall raise a fortune and make a figure, while I have 
little more than the common conveniences of life.'* 
Et tibi magna satis ! — Was it in order to raise a for- 
tune that you consumed the sprightly hours of youth 
in study and retirement ? Was it to be rich that you 
grew pale over the midnight lamp, and distilled the 
sweetness from the Greek and Roman spring ? You 
have then mistaken your path, and ill employed your 
industry. "What reward have I then for all my 
labours ?" What reward ! A large comprehensive 
soul, well purged from vulgar fears, and perturbations, 
and prejudices ; able to comprehend and interpret the 
works of man — of God. A rich, flourishing, cultivated 
mind, pregnant with inexhaustible stores of entertain- 
ment and reflection. A perpetual spring of fresh ideas : 
and the conscious dignity of superior intelligence. 
Good heaven ! and what reward can you ask besides : 

" But is it not some reproach upon the economy of 
Providence that such a one, who is a mean dirty fellow, 
.should have amassed wealth enough to buy half a 
nation ?" Not in the least. He made himself a mean 
dirty fellow for that very end. He has paid his health, 
his conscience, his liberty for it ; and will you envy 
him his bargain ? Will you hang your head and blush 
in his presence because he outshines you in equipage 
and show ? Lilt up your brow with a noble confidence, 
and say to yourself, I have not these things, it is true ; 
but it is because 1 have not sought, because 1 have 
not desired them ; it is because I possess something 
better. I have chosen my lot. I am content and 
satisfied. 

You are a modest man — You love quiet and inde- 
pendence, and have a delicacy and reserve in your 
temper which renders it impossible for you to elbow 
your way in the world, and be the herald of your 
own merits. Be content then with a modest retire- 
10* 



114 AGAINST INCONSISTENCY 

merit, with the esteem of your intimate friends, with 
the praises of a blameless heart, and a delicate, ingen- 
uous spirit ; but resign the splendid distinctions of the 
world to those who can better scramble for them. 

The man whose tender sensibility of conscience and 
strict regard to the rules of morality makes him 
scrupulous and fearful of offending, is often heard to 
complain of the disadvantages he lies under in every, 
path of honour and profit. " Could I but get over 
some nice points, and conform to the practice and 
opinion of those about me, I might stand as fair a 
chance as others for dignities and preferment." And 
why can you not ? What hinders you from discarding 
this troublesome scrupolosity of yours, which stands so 
grievously in your way ? If it be a small thing to en- 
joy a healthful mind, sound at the very core, that does 
not shrink from the keenest inspection ; inward free- 
dom from remorse and perturbation ; unsullied white- 
ness and simplicity of manners ;. a genuine integrity 

"Pure in the last recesses of the mind;" 

if you think these advantages an inadequate recom- 
pense for what you resign, dismiss your scruples this 
instant, and be a slave-merchant, a parasite, or — what 
you please. 

"If these be motives weak, break off betimes ;*' 

and' as- you have not spirit to assert the dignity of 
virtue, be wise enough not to forego the emoluments 
of vice. 

I much admire the spirit of the ancient philosophers, 
in that they never attempted, as our moralists often 
do, to lower the tone of philosophy, and make it 
consistent with all the indulgences of indolence and 
sensuality. They never thought of having the bulk of 
mankind for their disciples ; but kept themselves _sf 



IN OUR EXPECTATIONS. US 

distinct as possible from a worldly life. They plainly 
told men what sacrifices were required, and what 
advantages they were which might be expected. 

" Si virtus hoc una potest dare, fortis onrissis 
Hoc age deliciis : " 

If you would be a philosopher, these are the terms. 
You must do thus and thus ; there is no other way. 
If not, go and be one of the vulgar. 

There is no one quality gives so much dignity to a 
character, as consistency of conduct. Even if a man's 
pursuits be wrong and unjustifiable, yet if they are 
prosecuted with steadiness and vigour, we cannot with- 
hold our admiration. The most characteristic mark 
of a great mind is to choose some one important object, 
and pursue it through life. It was this made Caesar 
a great man. His object was ambition ; he pursued 
it steadily, and was always ready to sacrifice to it, 
every interfering passion or inclination. 

There is a pretty passage in one of Lucian's dia- 
logues, where Jupiter complains to Cupid that though 
he has had so many intrigues, he was never sincerely 
beloved. In order to be loved, says Cupid, you must 
lay aside your aegis and your thunder-bolts, and you 
must curl and perfume your hair, and place a garland 
on your head, and walk with a soft step, and assume a 
winning, obsequious deportment. But, replied Jupiter, 
[ am not willing to resign so much of my dignity. 
Then, returns Cupid, leave off desiring to be loved — 
He wanted to be Jupiter and Adonis at the same time. 

It must be confessed, that men of genius are of all 
others most inclined to make these unreasonable claims. 
As their relish for enjoyment is strong, their views 
large and comprehensive, and they feel themselves 
lifted above the common bulk of mankind, they are 
apt to slight that natural reward of praise and admira- 



116 AGAINST INCONSISTENCY 

tion which is ever largely paid to distinguished abilities ; 
and to expect to be called forth to public notice and 
favour : without considering that their talents are com- 
monly very unfit for active life ; that their eccentricity 
and turn for speculation disqualifies them for the business 
of the world, which is best carried on by men of mod- 
erate genius ; and that society is not obliged to reward 
any one who is not useful to it. The Poets have been 
a very unreasonable race, and have often complained 
loudly of the neglect of genius and the ingratitude of 
the age. The tender and pensive Cowley, and the 
elegant Shenstone, had their minds tinctured by this 
discontent ; and even the sublime melancholy of 
Young was too much owing to the stings of disappoint- 
ed ambition. 

The moderation we have been endeavouring to in- 
culcate, will likewise prevent much mortification and 
disgust in our commerce with mankind. As we ought 
not to wish in ourselves, so neither should we expect 
in our friends contrary qualifications. Young and 
sanguine, when we enter the world, and feel our affec- 
tions drawn forth by any particular excellence in a 
character, we immediately give it credit for all others ; 
and are beyond measure disgusted when we come to 
discover, as we soon must discover, the defects in the 
other side of the balance. But nature is much more 
frugal than to heap together all manner of shining 
qualities in one glaring mass. Like a judicious paint- 
er, she endeavours to preserve a certain unity of style 
and colouring in her pieces. Models of absolute per- 
fection are only to be met with in romance ; where 
exquisite beauty, and brilliant wit, and profound judg- 
ment, and immaculate virtue, are all blended together 
to adorn some favourite character. As an anatomist 
knows that the racer cannot have the strength and 
muscles of the draught-horse ; and that winged men, 



IN OUR EXPECTATIONS. 117 

gryflbns, and mermaids must be mere creatures of 
the imagination ; so the philosopher is sensible that 
there are combinations of moral qualities, which never 
can take place but in idea. There is a different air 
and complexion in characters as well as in faces, 
though perhaps each equally . beautiful ; and the ex- 
cellencies of one cannot be transferred to the other. 
Thus, if one man possesses a stoical apathy of soul, 
acts independent of the opinion of the world, and ful- 
fils every duty with mathematical exactness, you must 
not expect that man to be greatly influenced by the 
weakness of pity, or the partialities of friendship : you 
must not be offended that he does not fly to meet you 
after a short absence ; or require from him the con- 
vivial spirit and honest effusions of a warm, open, sus- 
ceptible heart. If another is remarkable for a lively, 
active zeal, inflexible integrity, a strong indignation 
against vice, and freedom in reproving it, he will pro- 
bably have some little bluntness in his address not al- 
together suitable to polished life ; he will want the win- 
ning arts of conversation ; he will disgust by a kind 
of haughtiness and negligence in his manner, and often 
hurt the delicacy of his acquaintance with harsh and 
disagreeable truths. 

We usually say — that man is a genius, but he has 
some w 7 hims and oddities — such a one has a very 
general knowledge, but he is superficial ; Slc. Now 
in all such cases we should speak more rationally did 
we substitute therefore for but. He is a genius, there- 
fore he is whimsical ; and the like. 

It is the fault of \\\e present age, owing to the freer 
commerce that different ranks and professions now 
enjoy with each other, that characters are not marked 
with sufficient strength : the several classes run too 
much into one another. We have fewer pedants, it 
i^ true, but we have fewer striking originals. Evert 



118 AGAINST INCONSISTENCY. 

one is expected to have such a tincture of general 
knowledge as is incompatible with going deep into 
any science ; and such a conformity to fashionable 
manners as checks the free workings of the ruling pas- 
sion, and gives an insipid sameness to the face of so- 
ciety, under, the idea of polish and regularity. 

There is a cast of manners peculiar and becoming 
to each age, sex, and profession ; one, therefore, 
should not throw out illiberal and common-place cen- 
sures against another. Each is perfect in its kind. 
A woman as a woman : a tradesman as a tradesman. 
We are often hurt by a brutality and sluggish concep- 
tions of the vulgar ; not considering that some there 
must be, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, 
and that cultivated genius, or even any great refine- 
ment and delicacy in their moral feelings, would be a 
real misfortune to them. 

Let us then study the philosophy of the human 
mind. The man who is master of this science, will 
know what to expect from every one. From this man, 
wise advice ; from that, cordial sympathy ; from an- 
other, casual entertainment. The passions and in- 
clinations of others are his tools, which he can use 
with as much precision as he would the mechanical 
powers ; and he can as readily make allowance for 
the workings of vanity, or the bias of self-interest in 
his friends, as for the power of friction, or the irregu- 
larities of the needle. 



119 



ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 



I happened the other day to take a solitary walk 
amongst the venerable ruins of an old Abbey. The 
stillness and solemnity of the place were favourable to 
thought, and naturally led me to a train of ideas rela- 
tive to the scene ; when, like a good protestant, I be- 
gan to indulge a secret triumph in the ruin of so many 
structures which I had always considered as the haunts 
of ignorance and superstition. 

Ye are fallen, said I, ye dark and gloomy mansions 
of mistaken zeal, where the proud priest and lazy 
monk fattened upon the riches of the land, and crept 
like vermin from their cells to spread their poisonous 
doctrines through the nation, and disturb the peace of 
kings. Obscure in their origin, but daring and am- 
bitious in their guilt ! See how the pure light of heaven 
is clouded by the dim glass of the arched window, 
stained with the gaudy colours of monkish tales and 
legendary fiction ; fit emblem how reluctantly they 
admitted the fairer light of truth amidst these dark 
recesses, and how much they have debased its genuine 
lustre ! The low r cells, the long and narrow aisles, the 
gloomy arches, the damp and secret caverns which 
wind beneath the hollow ground, far from impressing 
on the mind the idea of the God of truth and love, 
seem only fit for those dark places of the earth, in 
which are the habitations of cruelty. These massy 
stones and scattered reliques of the vast edifice, like 
the large bones and gigantic armour of a once formi- 
dable ruffian, produce emotions of mingled dread and 



120 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 

exultation. Farewell, ye once venerated seats ! 
enough of you remains, and may it always remain, to 
remind us from what we have escaped, and make 
posterity for ever thankful for this fairer age of liberty 
and light. 

Such were for a while my meditations, but it is 
cruel to insult a fallen enemy, and I gradually fell in- 
to a different train of thought. I began to consider 
whether something might not be advanced in favour 
of these institutions during the barbarous ages in which 
they flourished, and though they have been productive 
of much mischief and superstition, whether they might 
not have spread the glimmering of a feeble ray of 
knowledge, through that thick night which once in- 
volved the western hemisphere. 

And where, indeed, could the precious remains of 
classical learning, and the divine monuments of an- 
cient taste, have been safely lodged amidst the ravages 
of that age of ferocity and rapine which succeeded the 
desolation of the Roman empire, except in sanctuaries 
like these, consecrated by the superstition of the times 
beyond their intrinsic merit ? The frequency of wars, 
and the licentious cruelty with which they were con- 
ducted, left neither the hamlet of the peasant nor the 
castle of the baron free from depredation ; but the 
church and monastery generally remained inviolate. 
There Homer and Aristotle were obliged to. shroud 
their heads from the rage of gothic ignorance ; and 
there the sacred records of divine truth were preserv- 
ed, like treasure hid in the earth in troublesome times, 
safe, but unenjoyed. Some of the barbarous nations 
were converted before their conquests, and most of 
them soon after their settlement in the countries they 
over-ran. Those buildings which their new faith 
taught them to venerate, afforded a shelter for those 
valuable manuscripts, which must otherwise have been 






ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 121 

destroyed in the common wreck. At the revival of 
learning, they were produced from their dormitories. 
A copy of the pandect of Justinian, that valuable re- 
main of Roman law, which first gave to Europe the 
idea of a more perfect jurisprudence, and gave men 
a relish for a new and important study, was discover- 
ed in a monastery of Amalphi. Most of the classics 
were recovered by the same means ; and to this it is 
owing, to the books and learning preserved in these 
repositories, that we were not obliged to begin anew, 
and trace every art by slow, uncertain steps from its 
first origin. Science, already full grown and vigorous, 
awaked as from a trance, shook her pinions, and soon 
soared to the heights of knowledge. 

Nor was she entirely idle during her recess ; at 
least we cannot but confess that what little learning 
remained in the world, was amongst the priests and re- 
ligious orders. Books, before the invention of paper 
and the art of printing, were so dear, that few private 
persons possessed any. The only libraries were 
in convents ; and the monks were often employed in 
transcribing manuscripts, which was a very tedious, 
and at that time a very necessary task. It was fre- 
quently enjoined as a penance for some slight offence, 
or given as an exercise to the younger part of the 
community. The monks w r ere obliged by their rules 
to spend some stated hours every day in reading and 
study ; nor was any one to be chosen abbot without 
a competent share of learning. They were the only 
historians ; and though their accounts be interwoven 
with many a legendary tale, and darkened by much 
superstition, still they are better than no histories at all ; 
and we cannot but think ourselves obliged to them for 
transmitting to us, in any dress, the annals of their 
Country. 

VOL. II. 11 



122 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 

They were likewise almost the sole instructers of 
youth. Towards the end of the tenth century, there 
w T ere no schools in Europe but the monasteries, and 
those which belonged to episcopal residences ; nor 
any masters but the Benedictines. It is true, their 
course of education extended no further than what 
they called the seven liberal arts, and these were 
taught in a very dry and uninteresting manner. But 
this was the genius of the age, and it should not be 
imputed to them as a reproach that they did not 
teach w T ell, when no one taught better. We are guilty 
of great unfairness when w r e compare the school-men 
with the philosophers of a more enlightened age : wc 
should contrast them with those of their own times ; 
with a high-constable of France who could not read ; 
with kings who made the sign of the cross in confirm- 
ation of their charters, because they could not write 
their names ; with a whole people without the least 
glimmering of taste or literature. Whatever was their 
real knowledge, there was a much greater difference 
between men of learning, and the bulk of the nation^ 
at that time, than there is at present ; and certainly, 
some of the disciples of those schools, who, though 
now fallen into disrepute, were revered in their day 
by the names of the subtle, or the angelic doctors, 
snowed an acuteness and strength of genius, which, 
if properly directed, would have gone far in philos- 
ophy ; and they only failed because their inquiries 
were not the objects of the human powers. Had they 
exercised half that acuteness on facts and experiments, 
they had been truly great men. However, there were 
not wanting some, even in the darkest ages, whose 
names will be always remembered with pleasure by 
the lovers of science. Alcuin, the preceptor of Charle- 
magne, the first who introduced a taste for polite 
literature into France, and the chief instrument that 



ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 123 

prince made use of in his noble endeavours for the 
encouragement of learning ; to whom the universities 
of Soissons, Tours, and Paris owe their origin : the 
historians, Matthew Paris, William of Malmsbury ; 
Savanarola ; the elegant and unfortunate Abelard ; 
and, to crown the rest, the English Franciscan, Roger 
Bacon. 

It may be here observed, that forbidding the vulgar 
tongue in the offices of devotion, and in reading the 
scriptures, though undoubtedly a great corruption in 
the Christian Church, was of infinite service to the 
interests of learning. When the ecclesiastics had 
locked up their religion in a foreign tongue, they 
would take care not to lose the key. This gave an 
importance to the learned languages ; and every 
scholar could not only read, but wrote and disputed 
in Latin, which without such a motive would probably 
have been no more studied than the Chinese. And 
at a time when the modern languages of Europe were 
yet unformed and barbarous, Latin was of great use as 
a kind of universal tongue, by which learned men 
might converse and correspond with each other. 

Indeed the monks were almost the only set of men 
who had leisure or opportunity to pay the least atten- 
tion to literary subjects. A learned education (and 
a very little went to that title) was reckoned peculiar 
to the religious. It was almost esteemed a blemish 
on the savage and martial character of the gentry, to 
have any tincture of letters. A man, therefore, of a 
studious and retired turn, averse to quarrels, and not 
desirous of the fierce and sanguinary glory of those 
times, beheld in the cloister a peaceful and honour- 
able sanctuary ; where, without the reproach of 
cowardice, or danger of invasion, he might devote 
himself to learning, associate with men of his own 
turn, and have free access to libraries and manuscripts. 



124 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 

In this enlightened and polished age, where learning 
is diffused through every rank, and many a merchant's 
clerk possesses more real knowledge than half the 
literati of that aera, we can scarcely conceive how 
gross an ignorance overspread those times, and how 
totally all useful learning might have been lost amongst 
us, had it not been for an order of men, vested with 
peculiar privileges, and protected by even a supersti-, 
tious degree of reverence. ^ • 

Thus the Muses, with their attendant arts, in strange 
disguise indeed, and uncouth trappings, took refuge 
in the peaceful gloom of the convent. Statuary carv- 
ed a madonna or a crucifix ; painting illuminated a 
missal ; eloquence made the panegyric of a saint ; 
and history composed a legend. Yet still they breath- 
ed, and were ready, at any happier period, to emerge 
from obscurity with all their native charms and undi- 
minished lustre. 

But there were other views in which those who de- 
voted themselves to a monastic life, might be supposed 
useful to society. They were often employed either 
in cultivating their gardens, or in curious mechanical 
works ; as indeed the nuns are still famous for many 
elegant and ingenious manufactures. By the constant 
communication they had with those of their own order, 
and with their common head at Rome, they maintain- 
ed some intercourse between nations at a time when 
travelling was dangerous, and commerce had not, as 
now, made the most distant parts of the globe familiar 
to each other : and they kept up a more intimate bond 
of union amongst learned men of all countries, who 
would otherwise have been secluded from all knowl- 
edge of each other. A monk might travel with more 
convenience than any one else ; his person was safer, 
and he was sure of meeting with proper accommoda- 
tions. The intercourse with Rome must have been 



ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 125 

peculiarly favourable to these northern nations; ab 
Italy for a long time led the way in every improve- 
ment of politeness or literature : and if we imported 
their superstition, we likewise imported their manufac- 
tures, their knowledge, and their taste. Thus Alfred 
sent for Italian monks, when he wanted to civilize 
his people, and introduce .amongst them some tincture 
of letters. It may likewise be presumed that they 
tempered the rigour of monarchy. Indeed they, as 
well as the sovereigns, endeavoured to enslave the 
people ; but subjection was not likely to be so abject 
and unlimited where the object of it was divided, and 
each showed by turns that the other might be opposed. 
It must have been of service to the cause of liberty, to 
have a set of men, whose laws, privileges, and immu- 
nities the most daring kings were afraid to trample on ; 
and this, before a more enlightened spirit of freedom 
had arisen, might have its effect in preventing the 
states of Christendom from falling into such entire slave- 
ry as the Asiatics. 

Such an order would in some degree check the 
excessive regard paid to birth. A man of mean origin 
and obscure parentage saw himself excluded from al- 
most every path of secular preferment, and almost 
treated as a being of an inferior species by the high 
and haughty spirit of the gentry ; but he was at liberty 
to aspire to the highest dignities of the church ; and 
there have been many who, like Sextus V. and cardi- 
nal Wolsey, have, by their industry and personal merit 
alone, raised themselves to a level with kings. 

It should likewise be remembered that many of the 
orders were charitable institutions ; as the knights of 
faith and charity in the thirteenth century, who were 
associated for the purpose of suppressing those bands 
of robbers which infested the public roads in France ; 
the brethren of the order of the redemption, for redeem- 
11* 



126 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 

ing slaves from the Mahometans ; the order of St. 
Anthony, first established for the relief of the poor 
under certain disorders ; and the brethren and sisters 
of the pious and christian schools, for educating poor 
children. These supplied the place of hospitals and 
other such foundations, which are now established on 
the broader basis of public benevolence. To bind up 
the wounds of the stranger, was peculiarly the office t 
of the inhabitants of the convent ; and they often shar- 
ed the charities they received. The exercise of 
hospitality is still their characteristic, and must have 
been of particular use formerly, when there were not 
the conveniences and accommodations for travelling 
which we now enjoy. The learned stranger was al- 
ways sure of an agreeable residence amongst them ; 
and as they all understood Latin, they served him for 
interpreters, and introduced him to a sight of whatever 
was curious or valuable in the countries which he vis- 
ited. They checked the spirit of savage fierceness, 
to which our warlike ancestors were so prone, with 
the mildness and sanctity of religious influences ; they 
preserved some respect to law and order, and often 
decided controversies by means less bloody than the 
sword, though confessedly more superstitious. 

A proof that these institutions had a favourable 
aspect towards civilization, may be drawn from a late 
history of Ireland. " Soon after the introduction of 
Christianity into that kingdom," says Dr. Leland, " the 
monks fixed their habitations in deserts, which they 
cultivated with their own hands, and rendered the 
most delightful spots in the kingdom. These deserts 
became well policed cities, and it is remarkable enough, 
that to the monks we owe so useful an institution in 
Ireland, as the bringing great numbers together into 
one civil community. In these cities the monks set 
up schools, and taught, not only the youth of Ireland, 



ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 127 

but* the neighbouring nations ; furnishing them also 
with books. They became umpires between contend- 
ing chiefs, and when they could not confine them 
within the bounds of reason and religion, at least ter- 
rified them by denouncing divine vengeance against 
their excesses." 

Let it be considered too, that when the minds of men 
began to open, some of the most eminent reformers 
sprung from the bosom of the church, and even of the 
convent. It was not the laity who began to think. 
The ecclesiastics were the first to perceive the errors 
they had introduced. The church was reformed from 
within, not from without ; and like the silk-worm, 
w T hen ripened in their cells to maturer vigour and per- 
fection, they pierced the cloud themselves had spun, 
and within which they had so long been enveloped. 

And let not the good protestant be too much star- 
tled if I here venture to insinuate, that the monasteries 
were schools ol some high and respectable virtues. 
Poverty, chastity, and a renunciation of the world, 
were certainly intended in the first plan of these in- 
stitutions ; and. though, from the unavoidable frailty of 
human nature, they were not always observed, certain 
it is, that many individuals amongst them have been 
striking examples of the self-denying virtues ; and as 
the influence they acquired was only built upon the 
voluntary homage of the mind, it may be presumed 
such an ascendancy was not originally gained without 
some species of merit. The fondness for monkery is 
easily deduced from some of the best principles in 
the human heart. It was indeed necessity, that in the 
third century first drove the christians to shelter them* 
selves from the Decian persecution in the solitary 
deserts of Thebais, but the humour soon spread, and 
numbers under the name of hermits, or eremites, 
secluded themselves from the commerce of mankind. 



128 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS, 

choosing the wildest solitudes, living in caves and hol- 
lows of the rocks, and subsisting on such roots and 
herbs as the ground afforded them. About the fourth 
century they were gathered into communities, and in- 
creased with surprising rapidity. It was then that, 
by a great and sudden revolution, the fury of perse- 
cution had ceased, and the governing powers were 
become friendly to Christianity. But the agitation of 
men's minds did not immediately subside with the 
storm. The christians had so long experienced the 
necessity of resigning all the enjoyments of life, and 
were so detached from every tie which might interfere 
with the profession of their faith, that upon a more 
favourable turn of affairs they hardly dared open their 
minds to pleasurable emotions. They thought the life 
of a good man must be a continual warfare between 
mind and body ; and having been long used to see 
ease and safety on the one side, and virtue on the 
other, no w T onder if the association was so strong in 
their minds, as to suggest the necessity of voluntary 
mortification, and lead them to inflict those sufferings 
upon themselves, which they no longer apprehended 
from others. They had continually experienced the 
amazing effects of Christianity in supporting its followers 
under hardship, tortures, and death ; and they thought 
little of its influence in regulating the common be- 
haviour of life, if it produced none of those great 
exertions they had been used to contemplate. They 
were struck with the change from heathen licentious- 
ness to the purity of the gospel ; and thought they 
could never be far enough removed from that bondage 
of the senses, which it had just cost them so violent a 
struggle to escape. The minds of men were working 
with newly-received opinions, not yet mellowed into a 
rational faith ; and the young converts, astonished at 
the grandeur and sublimity of the doctrines which 



ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 129 

then first entered their hearts with irresistible force, 
thought them worthy to engross their whole attention. 
The mystic dreams of the Platonist mingled with the 
enthusiasm of the martyr ; and it soon became the 
prevailing opinion, that silence, solitude, and contem- 
plation, were necessary for the reception of divine 
truth. Mistaken ideas prevailed of a purity and per- 
fection far superior to the rules of common life, which 
was only to be attained by those who denied them- 
selves all the indulgences of sense ; and thus the 
ascetic severities of the cloister succeeded in some 
degree to the philosophic poverty of the Cynic school, 
and the lofty virtues of the Stoic porch. 

Indeed, it is now the prevailing taste in morals to 
decry every observance which has the least appearance 
of rigour ; and to insist only on the softer virtues. 
But let it be remembered, that self-command and 
self-denial are as necessary to the practice of benevo- 
lence, charity, and compassion, as to any other duty ; 
that it is impossible to live to others without denying 
ourselves ; and that the man who has not learned to 
curb his appetites and passions is ill qualified for those 
sacrifices which the friendly affections are continually 
requiring of him. The man w T ho has that one quality 
of self-command will find little difficulty in the practice 
of any other duty ; as, on the contrary, he who has it 
not, though possessed of the gentlest feelings, and most 
refined sensibilities, will soon find his benevolence sink 
into a mere companionable easiness of temper, neither 
useful to others nor happy for himself. A noble en- 
thusiasm is sometimes of use to show how far human 
nature can go. Though it may not be proper, or de- 
sirable, that numbers should seclude themselves from 
the common duties and ordinary avocations of life, for 
the austerer lessons of the cloister, yet it is not unuse- 
ful that some should push their virtues to even a 



130 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 

romantic height ; and it is encouraging to reflect ill 
the hour of temptation, that the love of ease, the 
aversion to pain, every appetite and passion, and even 
the strongest propensities in our nature, have been 
controlled ; that the empire of the mind over the 
body has been asserted in its fullest extent ; and that 
there have been men in all ages capable of voluntarily 
renouncing all the world offers, voluntarily suffering 
all its dreads, and living independent, and unconnect- 
ed with it. Nor was it a small advantage, or ill 
calculated to support the dignity of science, that a 
learned man might be respectable in a coarse gown, 
a leathern girdle, and bare-footed. Cardinal Ximenes 
preserved the severe simplicity of a convent amidst 
the pomp and luxury of palaces ; and to those who 
thus thought it becoming in the highest stations to 
affect the appearance of poverty, the reality surely 
could not be very dreadful. 

There is yet another light in which these institutions 
may be considered. It is surely not improper to provide 
a retreat for those who, stained by some deep and 
enormous crime, wish to expiate by severe and un- 
common penitence those offences which render them 
unworthy of freer commerce with the world. Re- 
pentance is never so secure from a relapse as when it 
breaks off at once from every former connexion, and 
entering upon a new course of life, bids adieu to every 
object that might revive the idea of temptations which 
have once prevailed. In these solemn retreats, the 
stillness and acknowledged sanctity of the place, with 
the striking novelty of every thing around them, might 
have great influence in calming the passions ; might 
break the force of habit, and suddenly induce a new 
turn of thinking. There are likewise afflictions so 
overwhelming to humanity, that they leave no relish 
i« the mind for any thing else than to enjoy its own 



ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 131 

melancholy in silence and solitude ; and to a heart 
torn with remorse, or opprest with sorrow, the gloomy 
severities of La Trappe are really a relief. Retire- 
ment is also the favourite wish of age. Many a 
statesman, and many a warrior, sick of the bustle of 
that world to which they had devoted the prime of 
their days, have longed for some quiet cell, where, 
like cardinal Wolsey, or Charles the Fifth, they might 
shroud their grey hairs, and lose sight of the follies 
with which they had been too much tainted. 

Though there is, perhaps, less to plead for immur- 
ing beauty in a cloister, and confining that part of the 
species who are formed to shine in families and sweeten 
society, to the barren duties and austere discipline of 
a monastic life ; yet circumstances might occur, in 
which they would, even to a woman, be a welcome 
refuge. A young female, whom accident or war had 
deprived of her natural protectors, must, in an age of 
barbarism, be peculiarly exposed and helpless. A 
convent offered her an asylum where she might be 
safe, at least, if not happy ; and add to the conscious- 
ness of unviolated virtue the flattering dreams of angelic 
purity and perfection. There were orders, as well 
amongst the women as the men, instituted for charita- 
ble purposes, such as that of the Virgins of Love, or 
Daughters of Mercy, founded in 1660, for the relief of 
the sick poor ; with others for instructing their children. 
These must have been peculiarly suited to the softness 
and compassion of the sex, and to this it is no doubt 
owing, that still, in catholic countries, ladies of the 
highest rank often visit the hospitals and houses of the 
poor ; waiting on them with the most tender assiduity, 
and performing such offices as our protestant ladies 
would be shocked at the thoughts of. We should also 
consider, that most of the females who now take the 
veil, are such as have no agreeable prospects in life. 



132 ON MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS. 

Why should not these be allowed to quit a world which 
will never miss them ? It is easier to retire from the 
public, than to support its disregard. The convent is 
to them a shelter from poverty and neglect. Their 
little community grows dear to them. The equality 
which subsists among these sisters of obscurity, the 
similarity of their fate, the peace, the leisure they 
enjoy, give rise to the most endearing friendships. 
Their innocence is shielded by the simplicity of their 
life from even the idea of ill ; and they are flattered 
by the notion of a voluntary renunciation of pleasures, 
which, probably, had they continued in the world, 
they would have had little share in. 

After all that can be said, we have reason enough 
to rejoice that the superstitions of former times are 
now fallen into disrepute. What might be a palliative 
at one time, soon became a crying evil in itself. W^hen 
the fuller day of science began to dawn, the monkish 
orders were willing to exclude its brightness, that the 
dim lamp might still glimmer in their cell. Their 
growing vices have rendered them justly odious to 
society, and they seem in a fair way of being for ever 
abolished. But may we not still hope that the w T orld 
was better than it would have been without them ; 
and that He, wiio knows to bring good out of evil, has 
made them, in their day, subservient to some useful 
purposes. The corruptions of Christianity, which have 
been accumulating for so many ages, seem to be now 
gradually clearing away, and some future period may 
perhaps exhibit our religion in all its native simplicity. 

So the pure limpid stream, when foul with stains 
Of rushing torrents, and descending rains, 
Works itself clear, and as it runs refines, 
Till by degrees the floating mirror shines ; 
Reflects each flower that on its borders grows, 
And a new heaven in its fair bosom shows. 



133 



AN ENaUIRY INTO THOSE KINDS OF DISr 

TRESS WHICH EXCITE AGREEABLE 

SENSATIONS : 

WITH A TALE. 



It is undoubtedly true, though a phenomenon of 
the human mind difficult to account for, that the rep- 
resentation of distress frequently gives pleasure ; from 
which general observation many of our modern writers 
of tragedy and romance seem to have drawn this in- 
ference, that in order to please, they have nothing 
more to do than to paint distress in natural and strik- 
ing colours. With this view, they heap together all 
the afflicting events and dismal accidents their imagi- 
nation can furnish ; and when they have half broke 
the reader's heart, they expect he should thank them 
for his agreeable entertainment. An author of this 
class sits down, pretty much like an inquisitor, to 
compute how much suffering he can inflict upon the 
hero of his tale before he makes an end of him ; with 
this difference, indeed, that the inquisitor only tortures 
those who are at least reputed criminals ; whereas the 
writer generally chooses the most excellent character 
in his piece for the subject of his persecution. The 
great criterion of excellence is placed in being able to 
draw tears plentifully ; and concluding we shall weep 
the more, the more the picture is loaded with doleful 
events, they go on, telling 

• «.••• of sorrows upon sorrows, 
Even to a lamentable length of woe. 
VOL. II. 12 



134 



AN ENQUIRY 



A monarch once proposed a reward for the discov- 
ery of a new pleasure ; but if any one could find out 
a new torture, or non-descript calamity, he would be 
more entitled to the applause of those who fabricated 
books of entertainment. 

But the springs of pity require to be touched with 
a more delicate hand ; and it is far from being true 
that we are agreeably affected by every thing that 
excites our sympathy. It shall therefore be the busi- 
ness of this essay to distinguish those kinds of distress 
which are pleasing in the representation, from those 
which are really painful and disgusting. 

The view or relation of mere misery can nevei* be 
pleasing. We have, indeed, a strong sympathy with 
all kinds of misery ; but it is a feeling of pure unmix- 
ed pain, similar in kind, though not equal in degree, 
to what we feel for ourselves on the like occasions ; 
and never produces that melting sorrow, that thrill of 
tenderness, to which we give the name of pity. They 
are two distinct sensations, marked by very different 
external expression. One causes the nerves to tingle, 
the flesh to shudder, and the whole countenance to be 
thrown into strong contractions ; the other relaxes the 
frame, opens the features, and produces tears. When 
we crush a noxious or loathsome animal, we may 
sympathize strongly with the pain it suffers, but with 
far different emotions from the tender sentiment we 
feel for the dog of Ulysses, who crawled to meet his 
long-lost master, looked up, and died at his feet. 
Extreme bodily pain is perhaps the most intense su£» 
fering we are capable of, and if the fellow-feeling with 
misery alone was grateful to the mind, the exhibition 
of a man in a fit of the tooth-ach, or under a chirurgi- 
cal operation, would have a fine effect in a tragedy. 
But there must be some other sentiment combined 
with this kind of instinctive sympathy, before it be- 



CONCERNING DISTRESS, &c. 135 

comes in any degree pleasing, or produces the sweet 
emotion of pity. This sentiment is love, esteem, the 
complacency we take in the contemplation of beauty, 
of mental or moral excellence, called forth and ren- 
dered more interesting, by circumstances of pain and 
danger. Tenderness is, much more properly than 
sorrow, the spring of tears; for it affects us in that 
manner, whether combined with joy or grief ; perhaps 
more in the former case than the latter. And I be- 
lieve we may venture to assert, that no distress which 
produces tears is wholly without a mixture of pleasure. 
When Joseph's brethren were sent to buy corn, if they 
had perished in the desart by wild beasts, or been 
reduced (as in the horrid adventures of a Pierre de 
Vaud) to eat one another, we might have shuddered, 
but we should not have wept for them. The gush of 
tears breaks forth when Joseph made himself known 
to his brethren, and fell on their neck, and kissed 
them. When Hubert prepares to burn out prince 
Arthur's eyes, the shocking circumstance, of itself, 
would only affect us with horror ; it is the amiable 
simplicity of the young prince, and his innocent affec- 
tion to his intended murderer, that draws our tears, 
and excites that tender sorrow which we love to feel, 
and which refines the heart while we do feel it. 

We see, therefore, from this view of our internal 
feelings, that no scenes of misery ought to be exhibit- 
ed which are not connected with the display of some 
moral excellence, or agreeable quality. If fortitude, 
power, and strength of mind are called forth, they 
produce the sublime feelings of wonder and admiration : 
if the softer qualities of gentleness, grace, and beauty, 
they inspire love and pity. The management of these 
latter emotions is our present object. 

And let it be remembered, in the first place, that 
the misfortunes which excite pity must not be too 



J36 AN ENQUIRY 

horrid and over-whelming. The mind is rather stun- 
ned than softened by great calamities. They are 
little circumstances that work most sensibly upon the 
tender feelings. For this reason, a well-written novel 
generally draws more tears than a tragedy. The 
distresses of tragedy are more calculated to amaze 
and terrify, than to move compassion. Battles, tor- 
ture and death are in every page. The dignity of the 
characters, the importance of the events, the pomp 
of verse and imagery, interest the grander passions, 
and raise the mind to an enthusiasm little favourable 
to the weak and languid notes of pity. The tragedies 
of Young are in a fine strain of poetry, and the situations 
are worked up with great energy ; but the pictures are 
in too deep a shade ; all his pieces are full of violent 
and gloomy passions, and so over-wrought with horror, 
that instead of awakening any pleasing sensibility, 
they leave on the mind an impression of sadness mix- 
ed with terror. Shakspeare is sometimes guilty of 
presenting scenes too shocking. Such is the tramp- 
ling out of Gloster's eyes ; and such is the whole play 
of Titus Andronicus. But Lee, beyond all others, 
abounds with this kind of images. He delighted in 
painting the most daring crimes, and cruel massacres ; 
and though he has shewn himself extremely capable 
of raising tenderness, he continually checks its course 
by shocking and disagreeable expressions. His pieces 
are in the same taste with the pictures of Spagnolet, 
and there are many scenes in his tragedies which no 
one can relish who would not look with pleasure on 
the flaying of St. Bartholomew. The following 
speech of Marguerite, in the massacre of Paris, was, 
I suppose, intended to express the utmost tenderness 
of affection. 

Die for him ! that 's too little ; I could burn 
Piece-meal away, or bleed to death by drops, 



CONCERNING DISTRESS, &c. 1:3"; 

Be flay'd alive, then broke upon the wheel, 
Yet with a smile endure it all for Guise : 
And when let loose from torments, all one wound, 
Run with my mangled arms and crush him dead. 

Images like these will never excite the softer pas- 
sions. We are less moved at the description of an 
Indian tortured with all the dreadful ingenuity of that 
savage people, than with the fatal mistake of the lover 
in the Spectator, who pierced an. artery in the arm of 
his mistress as he was letting her blood. Tragedy 
and romance-writers, are likewise apt to make too 
free with the more violent expressions of passion and 
distress, by which means they lose their effect. Thus 
an ordinary author does not know how to express any- 
strong emotion otherwise than by swoonings or death ; 
so that a person experienced in this kind of reading, 
when a girl faints away at parting with her lover, or a 
hero kills himseJf for the loss of his mistress, considers 
it as the established etiquette upon such occasions, 
and turns over the pages with the utmost coolness 
and unconcern ;' whereas real sensibility, and a more 
intimate knowledge of human nature, would have sug- 
gested a thousand little touches of grief, which though 
slight, are irresistible. We are too gloomy a people. 
Some of the French novels are remarkable for little 
affecting incidents, imagined with delicacy, and told 
with grace. Perhaps they have a better turn than 
we have for this kind of writing. 

A judicious author will never attempt to raise pity 
by any thing mean or disgusting. As we have al- 
ready observed, there must be a degree of compla- 
cence mixed with our sorrows to produce an agree- 
able sympathy ; nothing, therefore, must be admitted 
which destroys the grace and dignity of suffering ; 
the imagination must have an amiable figure to dwell 
upon ; there are circumstances so ludicrous or disgust- 
12* 



138 AN ENQUIRY 

ing, that no character can preserve a proper decorum 
under them, or appear in an agreeable light. Who 
can read the following description of Polypheme, with- 
out finding his compassion entirely destroyed by aver- 
sion and loathing ? 

His bloody hand 

Snatch'd two unhappy of my martial band, 

And dash'd like dogs against the stony floor ; 

The pavement swims with brains and mingled gore ; 

Torn limb from limb, he spreads his horrid feast, 

And fierce devours it like a mountain beast ; 

He sucks the marrow, and the blood he drains, 

Nor entrails, flesh, nor solid bone remains. 

Or that of Scylla, 

In the wide dungeon she devours her food, 

And the flesh trembles while she churns the blood. 

Deformity is always disgusting, and the imagination 
cannot reconcile it with the idea of a favourite char- 
acter ; therefore the poet and romance-w T riter are 
fully justified in giving a larger share oT beauty to their 
principal figures than is usually met with in common 
life. A late genius, indeed, in a whimsical mood, 
gave us a lady with her nose crushed for the heroine 
of his story ; but the circumstance spoils the picture ; 
and though in the course of the story it is kept a good 
deal out of sight, whenever it does recur to the imag- 
ination, we are hurt and disgusted. It was an heroic 
instance of virtue in the nuns of a certain abbey, w T ho 
cut off their noses and lips to avoid violation ; yet this 
would make a very bad subject for a poem or a play. 
Something akin to this, is the representation of any 
thing unnatural ; of which kind is the famous story of 
the Roman charity, and for this reason I cannot but 
think it an unpleasing subject for either the pen or the 
pencil. 



CONCERNING DISTRESS, &c. 139 

Poverty, if truly represented, shocks our nicer 
feelings ; therefore, whenever it is made use of to 
awaken our compassion, the rags and dirt, the squalid 
appearance and mean employments incident to that 
state must be kept out of sight, and the distress must 
arise from the idea of depression, and the shock of 
falling from higher fortunes; We do not pity Belisarius 
as a poor blind beggar ; and a painter would succeed 
very ill who should sink him to the meanness of that 
condition. He must let us still discover the conquer- 
or of the Vandals, the general of the imperial armies, 
or we shall be little interested. Let us look at the 
picture of the old woman in Otway : 

A wrinkled hag with age grown double, 

Picking dry sticks, and muttering to herself; 
Her eyes with scalding rheum were galled and red ; 
• Cold palsy shook tier head ; her hands seem'd wither'd ; 
And on her crooked shoulder had she wrapt 
The tatter' d remnant of an old strip' d hanging, 
Which serv'd to keep her carcase from the cold ; 
So there was nothing of a piece about her. 

Here is the extreme of wretchedness, and instead of 
melting into pity, we should turn away w 7 ith disgust, if 
we w T ere not pieased with it, as we are w T ith a Dutch 
painting, from its exact imitation of nature. Indeed 
the author only intended it to strike horror. But 
how different are the sentiments w T e feel for the lovely 
Belvidera ! We see none of those circumstances which 
render poverty an unamiable thing. When the goods 
are seized by an execution, our attention is turned to 
the piles of massy plate, and all the ancient, most do- 
mestic ornaments, which imply grandeur and conse- 
quence ; or to such instances of their hard fortune as 
will lead us to pity them as lovers : w r e are struck and 
affected with the general face of ruin ; but we are not 
brought near enough to discern the ugliness of its 



140 AN ENQUIRY 

features. Belvidera ruined, Belvidera deprived of 
friends, without a home, abandoned to the wide world — 
we can contemplate with all the pleasing sympathy 
of pity ; but had she been represented as really sunk 
into low life, had we seen her employed in the most 
servile offices of poverty, our compassion would have 
given w T ay to contempt and disgust. Indeed, we may 
observe in real life, that poverty is only pitied so long- 
as people can keep themselves from the effects of it. 
When in common language we say a miserable object, 
we mean an object of distress which, if we relieve, 
we turn away from at the same time. To make pity 
pleasing, the object of it must not in any view be dis- 
agreeable to the imagination. How admirably has the 
author of Clarissa managed this point ! Amidst scenes of 
suffering which rend the heart, in poverty, in a prison, 
under the most shocking outrages, the grace and deli- 
cacy of her character never suffers even for a moment : 
there seems to be a charm about her which prevents 
her receiving a stain from any thing which happens ; 
and Clarissa, abandoned and undone, is the object 
not only of complacence, but veneration. 

I would likewise observe, that if an author would 
have us feel a strong degree of compassion, his char- 
acters must not be too perfect. The stern fortitude 
and inflexible resolution of a Cato may command 
esteem, but does not excite tenderness ; and faultless 
rectitude of conduct, though no rigour be mixed with 
it, is of too sublime a nature to inspire compassion. 
JQrtue has a kind of self-sufficiency ; it stands upon 
its own basis, and cannot be injured by any violence. 
It must therefore be mixed with something of helpless- 
ness and imperfection, with an excessive sensibility, 
or a simplicity bordering upon weakness, before it 
raises, in any great degree, either tenderness or familiar 
love. If there be a fault in the masterly performance 



CONCERNING DISTRESS, &c. 141 

just now mentioned, it is that the character of Clarissa 
is so inflexibly right, her passions are under such per- 
fect command, and her prudence is so equal to e very- 
occasion, that she seems not to need that sympathy 
we should bestow upon one of a less elevated charac- 
ter ; and perhaps we should feel a livelier emotion of 
tenderness for the innocent girl whom Lovelace calls 
his Rose-bud, but that the story of Clarissa is so 
worked up by the strength of colouring, and the force 
of repeated impressions, as to command all our sorrow. 

Pity seems too degrading a sentiment to be offered 
at the shrine of faultless excellence. The sufferings 
of martyrs are rather beheld with admiration and sym- 
pathetic triumph than with tears ; and we never feel 
much for those whom we consider as themselves rais- 
ed above common feelings. 

The last rule I shall insist upon is, that scenes of 
distress should not be too long continued. All our 
finer feelings are in a manner momentary, and no art 
can carry them beyond a certain point, either in in- 
tenseness or duration. Constant suffering deadens 
the heart to tender impressions ; as we may observe 
in sailors and others, who are grown callous by a life 
of continual hardships. It is therefore highly necessary, 
in a long work, to relieve the mind by scenes of pleas- 
ure and gaiety ; and I cannot think it so absurd a 
practice as our modern delicacy has represented it, 
to intermix wit and fancy with the pathetic, provided 
care be taken not to check the passions while they 
are flowing. The transition from a pleasurable state 
of mind to tender sorrow is not so difficult as we 
imagine. When the mind is opened by gay and 
agreeable scenes, every impression is felt more sensibly. 
Persons of a lively temper are much more susceptible 
of that sudden swell of sensibility which occasions 
tears, than those of a grave and saturnine cast : for 



142 AN ENQUIRY 

this reason women are more easily moved to weeping 
than men. Those who have touched the springs of 
pity with the finest hand, have mingled light strokes 
of pleasantry and mirth in their most pathetic passages. 
Very different is the conduct of many novel-writers, 
who, by plunging us into scenes of distress without 
end or limit, exhaust the powers, and, before the con- 
clusion, either render us insensible to every thing, or 
fix a real sadness upon the mind. The uniform style 
of tragedies is one reason why they affect so little. 
In our old plays, all the force of language is reserved 
for the more interesting parts ; and in the scenes of 
common life there is no attempt to rise above common 
language : whereas we, by that pompous manner and 
affected solemnity which we think it necessary to pre- 
serve through the whole piece, lose the force of an 
elevated or passionate expression where the occasion 
really suggests it. 

Having thus considered the manner in which fictitious 
distress must be managed to render it pleasing, let us 
reflect a little upon the moral tendency of such repre- 
sentations. Much has been said in favour of them, 
and they are generally thought to improve the tender 
and humane feelings ; but this, I own, appears to me 
very dubious. That they exercise sensibility, is true ; 
but sensibility does not increase with exercise. By 
the constitution of our frame our habits increase, our 
emotions decrease, by repeated acts ; and thus a wise 
provision is made, that as our compassion grows weak- 
er, its place should be supplied by habitual benevolence. 
But in these writings our sensibility is strongly called 
forth without any possibility of exerting itself in virtu- 
ous action, and those emotions, which we shall never 
feel again with equal force, are wasted without advan- 
tage. Nothing is more dangerous than to let virtuous 
impressions of any kind pass through the mind without 



CONCERNING DISTRESS, &c. i 43 

producing their proper effect. The awakenings of 
remorse, virtuous shame and indignation, the glow of 
moral approhation — if they do not lead to action, grow 
less and less vivid every time they recur, till at length 
the mind grows absolutely callous. The being affect- 
ed with a pathetic story, is undoubtedly a sign of an 
amiable disposition, but perhaps no means of increas- 
ing it. On the contrary, young people, by a course 
of this kind of reading, often acquire something of 
that apathy and indifference which the experience of 
real life would have given them without its advantages. 

Another reason why plays and romances do not 
improve our humanity is, that they lead us to require 
a certain elegance of manners and delicacy of virtue 
which is not often found with poverty, ignorance and 
meanness. The objects of pity in romance are as 
different from those in real life as our husbandmen 
from the shepherds of Arcadia; and a girl who will 
sit weeping the whole night at the delicate distresses of 
a lady Charlotte, or lady Julia, shall be little moved at 
the complaint of her neighbour, who, in a homely phrase 
and vulgar accent, laments to her that she is not able 
to get bread for her family. Romance-writers likewise 
make great misfortunes so familiar to our ears, that we 
have hardly any pity to spare for the common accidents 
of life : but we ought to remember, that misery has a 
claim to relief, however we may be disgusted with 
its appearance ; and that we must not fancy ourselves 
charitable, when we are only pleasing our imagination. 

It would perhaps be better, if our romances were 
more like those of the old stamp, which tended to 
raise human nature, and inspire a certain grace and 
dignity of manners of which we have hardly the idea. 
The high notions of honour, the wild and fanciful 
spirit of adventure and romantic love, elevated the 
mind ; our novels tend to depress and enfeeble it. 



144 AN ENQUIRY 

Yet there is a species of this kind of writing which 
must ever afford an exquisite pleasure to persons of 
taste and sensibility ; where noble sentiments are mix- 
ed with well-fancied incidents, pathetic touches with 
dignity and grace, and invention with chaste correct- 
ness. Such will ever interest our sweetest passions. 
I shall conclude this paper with the following tale. 



In the happy period of the golden age, when all 
the celestial inhabitants descended to the earth, and 
conversed familiarly with mortals, among die most 
cherished of the heavenly powers were twins, the off- 
spring of Jupiter, Love and Joy. Where they appear- 
ed, the flowers sprung up beneath their feet, the sun 
shone with a brighter radiance, and all nature seemed 
embellished by their presence. They were insepara- 
ble companions, and their growing attachment was 
favoured by Jupiter, who had decreed that a lasting 
union should be solemnized between them as soon as 
they were arrived at maturer years. But in the mean 
time, the sons of men deviated from their native in- 
nocence ; vice and ruin overran the earth with giant 
strides ; and Astrea, with her train of celestial visitants, 
forsook their polluted abodes. Love alone remained, 
having been stolen away by Hope, who was his nurse, 
and conveyed by her to the forests of Arcadia, where 
he was brought up among the shepherds. But Jupiter 
assigned him a different partner, and commanded him to 
espouse Sorrow, the daughter of Ate. He complied 
with reluctance ; for her features were harsh and dis- 
agreeable, her eyes sunk, her forehead contracted into 
perpetual wrinkles, and her temples were covered with 
a wreath of cypress aad wormwood. From this 
union sprung a virgin, in whom might be traced a 
strong resemblance to both her parents ; but the sullen 



AN ENQUIRY, &c. 145 

and unamiable features of her mother were so mixed 
and blended with the sweetness of her father, that her 
countenance, though mournful, was highly pleasing. 
The maids and shepherds of the neighbouring plains 
gathered round, and called her Pity. A redbreast 
was observed to build in the cabin where she was 
born ; and while she was yet an infant, a dove, pur- 
sued by a hawk, flew into her bosom. This nymph 
had a dejected appearance, but so soft and gentle a 
mien that she was beloved to. a degree of enthusiasm. 
Her voice was low and plaintive, but inexpressibly 
sweet ; and she loved to lie for hours together on the 
banks of some wild and melancholy stream, singing 
to her lute. She taught men to weep, for she took a 
strange delight in tears ; and often, when the virgins 
of the hamlet were assembled at their evening sports, 
she would steal in amongt them, and captivate their 
hearts by her tales full of a charming sadness. She 
wore on her head a garland, composed of her father's 
myrtles, twisted with her mother's cypress. 

One day, as she sat musing by the waters of Helicon, 
her tears by chance fell into the fountain ; and ever 
since, the muses' spring has retained a strong taste of 
the infusion. Pity was commanded by Jupiter to 
follow the steps of her mother through the world, 
dropping balm into the wounds she made, and binding 
up the hearts she had broken. She follows with her 
hair loose, her bosom bare and throbbing, her garments 
torn by the briars, and her feet bleeding with the rough- 
ness of the path. The nymph is mortal, for her 
mother is so ; and when she has fulfilled her destined 
course upon the earth, they shall both expire together, 
and^ Love be again united to Joy, his immortal and 
long-betrothed bride. 

VOL. II. 13 



146 



THOUGHTS ON THE DEVOTIONAL TASTE, 



SECTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS.* 



It is observed by a late most amiable and elegant 
writer, that religion may be considered in three differ- 
ent views. As a system of opinions, its sole object 
is truth ; and the only faculty that has any thing to do 
with it is reason, exerted in the freest and most dis- 
passionate inquiry. As a principle regulating our 
conduct, religion is a habit, and like all other habits, 
of slow growth, and gaining strength only by repeated 
exertions. But it may likewise be considered as a 
taste, an affair of sentiment and feeling, and in this 
sense it is properly called devotion. Its seat is in the 
imagination and the passions, and it has its source in 
that relish for the sublime, the vast, and the beautiful, 
by which we taste the charms of poetry and other 
compositions that address our finer feelings ; rendered 
more lively and interesting by a sense of gratitude for 
personal benefits. It is in a great degree constitutional, 
and is by no means found in exact proportion to the 
virtue of a character. 

It is with relation to this last view of the subject 
that the observations in this essay are hazarded ; for 
though, as a rule of life, the authority and salutary 
effects of religion are pretty universally acknowledged, 
and though its tenets have been defended with sufii- 



* This Essay was first printed in 1775, and prefixed to Devtional 
Pieces comjriledfrom the Psalms of David. 



ON THE DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 147 

cient zeal, its affections languish, the spirit of devotion 
is certainly at a very low ebb amongst us, and what is 
surprising, it has fallen, I know not h6w, into a certain 
contempt, and is treated with great indifference, 
amongst many of those who value themselves on the 
purity of their faith, and who are distinguished by the 
sweetness of their moralsr ' As the religious affections 
in a great measure rise and fall with the pulse, and 
are affected by every thing which acts upon the im- 
agination, they are apt to run into strange excesses ; 
and if directed by a melancholy or enthusiastic faith, 
their workings are often too strong for a weak head, or 
a delicate frame ; and for this reason they have been 
almost excluded from religious worship by many per- 
sons of real piety. It is the character of the present 
age to allow little to sentiment, and all the warm and 
generous emotions are treated as romantic by the su- 
percilious brow of a cold-hearted philosophy. The 
man of science, with an air of superiority, leaves them 
to some florid declaimer who professes to work upon 
the passions of the low T er class, w r here they are so 
debased by noise and nonsense, that it is no wonder if 
they move disgust in those of elegant and better- 
informed minds. 

Yet there is a devotion, generous, liberal, and 
humane, the child of more exalted feelings than base 
minds can enter into, which assimilates man to higher 
natures, and lifts him " above this visible diurnal 
sphere." Its pleasures are ultimate, and, when early 
cultivated, continue vivid even in that uncomfortable 
season of life when some of the passions are extinct, 
when imagination is dead, and the heart begins to con- 
tract within itself. Those who want this taste, want a 
sense, a part of their nature, and should not presume 
to judge of feelings to which they must ever be stran- 
gers. No one pretends to be a judge in poetry or the 



148 



THOUGHTS ON THE 



fine arts, who has not both a natural and a cultivated 
relish for them ; and shall the narrow-minded children 
of earth, absorbed in low pursuits, dare to treat as 
visionary, objects which they have never made them- 
selves acquainted with . ? Silence on such subjects 
will better become them. But to vindicate the plea- 
sures of devotion to those who have neither taste nor 
knowledge about them, is not the present object. It 
rather deserves our inquiry, what causes have contri- 
buted to check the operation of religious impressions 
amongst those who have steady principles, and are 
well disposed to virtue. 

And, in the first place, there is nothing more pre- 
judicial to the feelings of a devout heart, than a habit 
of disputing on religious subjects. Free inquiry is 
undoubtedly necessary to establish a rational belief; 
but a disputatious spirit, and fondness for controversy, 
give the mind a sceptical turn, with an aptness to call 
in question the most established truths. It is impossi- 
ble to preserve that deep reverence for the Deity 
with which we ought to regard him, when all his attri- 
butes, and even his very existence, become the sub- 
ject of familiar debate. Candor demands that a man 
should allow his opponent an unlimited freedom of 
speech, and it is not easy in the heat of discourse to 
avoid falling into an indecent or careless expression ; 
hence, those who think seldomer of religious subjects, 
often treat them with more respect than those whose 
profession keeps them constantly in their view. A 
plain man of a serious turn would probably be shocked 
to hear questions of this natpre treated with that ease 
and negligence with which they are generally discuss- 
ed by the practised theologian, or the young, lively 
academic, ready primed from the schools of logic and 
metaphysics. As the ear loses its delicacy by being 
obliged only to hear ctfarse and vulgar language, so 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 149 

the veneration for religion wears off by hearing it 
treated with disregard, though we ourselves are em- 
ployed in defending it ; and to this it is owing that 
many who have confirmed themselves in the belief of 
religion, have never been able to recover that strong 
and affectionate sense of jt which they had before 
they began to inquire, and have wondered to find their 
devotion grow weaker, when their faith was better 
grounded. Indeed, strong reasoning powers and 
quick feelings do not often unite in the same person. 
Men of a scientific turn seldom lay their hearts open 
to impression. Previously biassed by the love of sys- 
tem, they do indeed attend the offices of religion, but 
they dare not trust themselves with the preacher, and 
are continually upon the watch to observe whether 
every sentiment agrees with their own particular 
tenets. 

The spirit of inquiry is easily distinguished from 
the spirit of disputation. A state of doubt is not a 
pleasant state. It is painful, anxious, and distressing 
beyond most others ; it disposes the mind to dejection 
and modesty. Whoever therefore is so unfortunate 
as not to have settled his opinions in important points, 
will proceed in the search of truth with deep humility, 
unaffected earnestness, and a serious attention to every 
argument that maybe offered, which he will be much 
rather inclined to revolve in his own mind, than to 
use as materials for dispute. Even with these dispo- 
sitions, it is happy for a man when he does not find 
much to alter in the religious system he has embrac- 
ed ; for if that undergoes a total revolution, his reli- 
gious feelings are too generally so weakened by the 
shock, that they hardly recover again their original 
tone and vigour. 

Shall we mention philosophy as an enemy to reli- 
gion ? God forbid ! Philosophy, 
13* 



150 THOUGHTS ON THE 

Daughter of Heaven, that slow ascending still 
Investigating sure the form of things. 
With radiant finger points to heaven again. 

Yet there is a view in which she exerts an influence 
perhaps rather unfavourable to the fervour of simple 
piety. Philosophy does indeed enlarge our concep- 
tions of the Deity, and gives us the sublimest ideas of 
his power and extent of dominion ; but it raises him 
too high for our imaginations to take hold of, and in 
a great measure destroys that affectionate regard 
which is felt by the common class of pious christians. 
When, after contemplating the numerous productions 
of this earth, the various forms of being, the laws, 
the mode of their existence, we rise yet higher, and 
turn our eyes to that magnificent profusion of suns 
and systems which astronomy pours upon the mind ; 
when w r e grow acquainted with the majestic order of 
nature, and those eternal laws which bind the material 
and intellectual worlds ; when w T e trace the footsteps 
of creative energy through regions of unmeasured 
space, and still find new wonders disclosed and press- 
ing upon the view — we grow giddy with the prospect ; 
the mind is astonished, confounded at its own insigni- 
ficance ; we think it almost impiety for a worm to lift 
its bead from the dust, and address the Lord of so 
stupendous a universe ; the idea of communion with 
our Maker shocks us as presumption, and the only 
feeling the soul is capable of in such a moment, is a 
deep and painful sense of its own abasement. It is 
true, the same philosophy teaches that the Deity is 
intimately present through every part of this compli- 
cated system, and neglects not any of his works : but 
this is a truth which is believed without being felt ; our 
imagination cannot here keep pace with our reason, 
and the sovereign of nature seems ever further removed 
from us, in proportion as we enlarge the bounds of his 
creation. 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 151 

Philosophy represents the Deity in too abstracted 
a manner to engage our affections. A Being without 
hatred and without fondness, going on in one steady 
course of even benevolence, neither delighted with 
praises, nor moved by importunity, does not interest 
us so much as a character open to the feelings of in- 
dignation, the soft relentings of mercy, and the par- 
tialities of particular affections. , We require some 
common nature, or at least the appearance of it, on 
which to build our intercourse. It is also a fault of 
which philosophers are often guilty, that they dwell 
too much in generals. Accustomed to reduce every 
thing to the operation of general laws, they turn our 
attention to larger views, attempt to grasp the whole 
order of the universe, and in the zeal of a systematic 
spirit, seldom leave room for those particular and per- 
sonal mercies which are the food of gratitude. They 
trace the great outline of nature, but neglect the col- 
ouring which gives warmth and beauty to the piece. 
As in poetry it is not vague and general description, but 
a few striking circumstances clearly related and strong- 
ly worked up — as in a landscape it is not such a vast ex- 
tensive range of country as pains the eye to stretch to 
its limits, but a beautiful, well-defined prospect, which 
gives the most pleasure — so neither are those un- 
bounded views in which philosophy delights, so much 
calculated to touch the heart, as home views and near- 
er objects. The philosopher offers up general poises 
on the altar of universal nature ; the devout man, on 
the altar of his heart, presents his own sighs, his own 
thanksgivings, his own earnest desires : the former 
worship is more sublime, the latter more personal and 
affecting. 

We are likewise too scrupulous in our public exer- 
cises, and too studious of accuracy. A prayer strictly 
philosophical must ever be a cold and dry composition. 



152 THOUGHTS ON THE 

From an over-anxious fear of admitting any expres- 
sion that is not strictly proper, we are apt to reject all 
warm and pathetic imagery, and, in short, every thing 
that strikes upon the heart and the senses. But it 
may be said, " If the Deity be indeed so sublime a 
being, and if his designs and manner are so infinitely 
beyond our comprehension, how can a thinking mind 
join in the addresses of the vulgar, or avoid being over- 
whelmed with the indistinct vastness of such an idea. 
Far be it from me to deny that awe and veneration 
must ever make a principal part of our regards to 
the Master of the universe, or to defend that style of 
indecent familiarity which is yet more shocking than 
indifference : but let it be considered that we cannot 
hope to avoid all improprieties in speaking of such a 
Being ; that the most philosophical address we can 
frame, is probably no more free from them than the 
devotions of the vulgar ; that the scriptures set us an 
example of accommodating the language of prayer 
to common conceptions, and making use of figures 
and modes of expression far from being strictly defen- 
sible ; and that, upon the whole, it is safer to trust to 
our genuine feelings, feelings implanted in us by the 
God of nature, than to any metaphysical subtleties. 
He has impressed me with the idea of trust and con- 
fidence, and my heart flies to him in danger ; of mer- 
cy to forgive, and I melt before him in penitence ; of 
bounty to bestow, and I ask of him all I want or wish 
for. I may make use of an inaccurate expression, I 
may paint him to my imagination too much in the 
fashion of humanity ; but while my heart is pure, 
while I depart not from the line of moral duty, the 
error is not dangerous. Too critical a spirit is the 
bane of every thing great or pathetic. In our creeds 
let us be guarded ; let us there weigh every syllable ; 
but in compositions addressed to the heart, let us give 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 153 

freer scope to the language of the affections, and the 
overflowing of a warm and generous disposition. 

Another cause which most effectually operates to 
check devotion, is ridicule. I speak not here of open 
derision of things sacred ; but there is a certain ludi- 
crous style in talking of such subjects, which, without 
any ill design, does much harm ; and perhaps those 
whose studies or profession lead them to be chiefly 
conversant with the offices of religion, are most apt to 
fall into this impropriety ; for their ideas being chiefly 
taken from that source, their common conversation is 
apt to be tinctured with fanciful allusions to scripture 
expressions, to prayers, &c. which have all the effect 
of a parody, and, like parodies, destroy the force of 
the finest passage, by associating it with something 
trivial and ridiculous. Of this nature is Swift's well- 
known jest of " Dearly beloved Roger," which who- 
ever has strong upon his memory, will find it impossi- 
ble to attend with proper seriousness to that part of 
the service. We should take great care to keep clear 
from all these trivial associations, in whatever we wish 
to be regarded as venerable. 

Another species of ridicule to be avoided, is that 
kind of sneer often thrown upon those whose hearts 
are giving way to honest emotion. There is an ex- 
treme delicacy in all the finer affections, which makes 
them shy of observation, and easily checked. Love, 
wonder, pity, the enthusiasm of poetry, shrink from 
the notice of even an indifferent eye, and never in- 
dulge themselves freely but in solitude, or when 
heightened by the powerful force of sympathy. Ob- 
serve an ingenuous youth at a well-wrought tragedy. 
If all around him are moved, he suffers his tears to 
flow freely ; but if a single.. f eye meets him with a 
glance of contemptuous indifference, he can no longer 
enjoy his sorrow ; he blushes at having wept, and in 



. 



154 THOUGHTS ON THE 

a moment his heart is shut up to every impression of 
tenderness. It is sometimes mentioned as a reproach 
to Protestants, that they are susceptible of a false 
shame when observed in the exercises of their reli- 
ligion, from which Papists are free. But I take this 
to proceed from the purer nature pf our religion ; for 
the less it is made to consist in outward pomp and 
mechanical worship, and the more it has to do with 
the finer affections of the heart, the greater will be 
the reserve and delicacy which attend the expression 
of its sentiments. Indeed, ridicule ought to be very 
sparingly used ; for it is an enemy to every thing sub- 
lime or tender : the least degree of it, whether well 
or ill founded, suddenly and instantaneously stops the 
workings of passion ; and those who indulge a talent 
' that way, would do well to consider, that they are 
rendering themselves for ever incapable of all the 
higher pleasures either of taste or morals. More es- 
pecially do these cold pleasantries hurt the minds of 
youth, by checking that generous expansion of heart 
to which their open tempers are naturally prone, and 
producing a vicious shame, through which they are 
deprived of the enjoyment of heroic sentiments or 
generous action. 

In the next place, let us not be superstitiously afraid 
of superstition. It shows great ignorance of the hu- 
man heart, and the springs by which its passions are 
moved, to neglect taking advantage of the impression 
which particular circumstances, times, and seasons, 
naturally make upon the mind. The root of all su- 
perstition is the principle of the association of ideas, 
by which objects, naturally indifferent, become dear 
and venerable, through their connexion with interest- 
ing ones. It is true, this principle has been much 
abused : it has given rise to pilgrimages innumerable, 
ivorship of relics, and priestly power. But let us not 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 155 

carry our ideas of purity and simplicity so far as to 
neglect it entirely. Superior natures, it is possible, 
may be equally affected with the same truths at all 
times, and in all places ; but we are not so made. 
Half the pleasures of elegant minds are derived from 
this source. Even the enjoyments of sense, without 
it, would lose much of their attraction. Who does 
not enter into the sentiment of the poet, in that pas- 
sage so full of nature and truth : 

"He that outlives this hour, and comes safe home, 
Shall stand on tiptoe when this day is named, 
And rouse him at the name of Crispian : 
He that nutiives this day and sees old age, 
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, 
And say, To-morrow is St. Crispian." 

But were not the benefits of the victory equally ap- 
parent on any other day of the year ? Why com- 
memorate the anniversary with such distinguished 
regard ? Those who can ask such a question, have 
never attended to some of the strongest instincts in 
our nature. Yet it has lately been the fashion, 
amongst those who call themselves % rational christians, 
to treat as puerile, all attentions of this nature when 
relative to religion. They would 

Kiss with pious lips the sacred earth 
Which gave a Hampden or a Russel birth. 

They will visit the banks of Avon with all the devo- 
tion of enthusiastic zeal ; celebrate the birth-day of 
the hero and the patriot ; and yet pour contempt upon 
the christian who suffers himself to be warmed by 
similar circumstances relating to his Master, or the 
connexion of sentiments of peculiar reverence with 
times, places, and men, which have been appropriated 
to the service of religion. A wise preacher will not, 
from a fastidious refinement, disdain to affect his hear- 
ers from the season of the year, the anniversary of a 



156 THOUGHTS ON THE 

national blessing, a remarkable escape from danger, 
or, in short, any incident that is sufficiently guarded, 
and far enough removed from what is trivial, to be 
out of danger of becoming ludicrous. 

It will not be amiss to mention here, a vepronch 
which has been cast upon devotional writers, that they 
are apt to run into the language of love. Perhaps 
the charge would be full as just, had they said that 
Love borrows the language of Devotion ; for the vo- 
taries of that passion are fond of using those exagger- 
ated expressions, which can suit nothing below Divin- 
ity ; and you can hardly address the greatest of all 
Beings in a strain of more profound adoration, than 
the lover uses to the object of his attachment. But 
the truth is, devotion does in no small degree resem- 
ble that fanciful and elevated kind of love which de- 
pends not on the senses. Nor is the likeness to be 
wondered at, since both have their source in the love 
of beauty and excellence. Both are exceeding 
prone to superstition, and apt to run into romantic 
excesses. Both are nourished by poetry and music, 
and felt with the greatest fervour in the warmer cli- 
mates. Both carry the mind out of itself, and power- 
fully refine the affections from every thing gross, low, 
and selfish. 

But it is time to retire ; we are treading upon en- 
chanted ground, and shall be suspected by many of 
travelling towards the regions of chivalry and old ro- 
mance. And were it so, many a fair majestic idea 
might be gathered from those forgotten walks, which 
would well answer the trouble of transplanting. It 
must, however, be owned, that very improper lan- 
guage has formerly been used on these subjects ; but 
there cannot be any great danger of such excesses, 
where the mind is guarded by a rational faith, and 
the social affections have full scope in the free com- 
merce and legitimate connexions of society. 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 157 

Having thus considered the various causes which 
contribute to deaden the feelings of devotion, it may 
not be foreign to the subject to enquire in what man- 
ner they are affected by the different modes of religion. 
I speak not of opinions ; for these have much less in- 
fluence upon the heart, than the circumstances which 
attend particular persuasions. A sect may only differ 
from an establishment, as one absurd opinion differs 
from another : but there is a character and cast of 
manners belonging to each, which will be perfectly 
distinct ; and of a sect, the character will vary as it 
is a rising or a declining sect, persecuted or at ease. 
Yet while divines have wearied the world with can- 
vassing contrary doctrines and jarring articles of faith, 
the philosopher has not considered, as the subject de- 
served, what situation was most favourable to virtue, 
sentiment, and pure manners. To a philosophic eye, 
free from prejudice, and accustomed to large views of 
the great polity carried on in the moral world, perhaps 
varying and opposite forms may appear proper, and 
well calculated for their respective ends ; and he will 
neither wish entirely to destroy the old, nor wholly to 
crush the new. 

The great line of division between different modes 
of religion, is formed by establishments and sects. In 
an infant sect, which is always in some degree a per- 
secuted one, the strong union and entire affection of 
its followers, the sacrifices they make to principle, the 
force of novelty, and the amazing power of sympa- 
thy, all contribute to cherish devotion. It rises even 
to passion, and absorbs every other sentiment. Sever- 
ity of manners imposes respect ; and the earnestness 
of the new proselytes renders them insensible to inju- 
ry, or even to ridicule. A strain of eloquence, often 
coarse indeed, but strong and persuasive, works like 
leaven in the heart of the people. In this state, all 
14 



158 



THOUGHTS ON THE 



outward helps are superfluous, the living spirit of de- 
votion is amongst them, the world sinks away to noth- 
ing before it, and every object but one is annihilated. 
The social principle mixes with the flame, and renders 
it more intense ; strong parties are formed, and 
friends or lovers are not more closely connected than 
the members of these little communities. 

It is this kind of devotion, a devotion which those 
of more settled and peaceable times can only guess 
at, which made amends to the first christians for all 
ihey resigned, and all they suffered : this draws the 
martyr to, a willing death, and enables the confessor 
to endure a voluntary poverty. But this stage cannot 
last long : the heat of persecution abates, and the fer- 
vour of zeal feels a proportional decay. Now comes 
on the period of reasoning and examination. The 
principles which have produced such mighty effects 
on the minds of men, acquire an importance, and be- 
come objects of the public attention. Opinions are 
canvassed. Those who before bore testimony to their 
religion only by patient suffering, now defend it with 
argument ;■ and all the keenness of polemical disquisi- 
tion is awakened on either side. The fair and gene- 
rous idea of religious liberty, which never originates in 
the breast of a triumphant party, now begins to unfold 
itself. To vindicate these rights, and explain these 
principles, learning, which in the former state was 
despised, is assiduously cultivated by the sectaries ; 
their minds become enlightened, and a large portion 
of knowledge, especially religious knowledge, is dif- 
fused through their whole body. Their manners are 
less austere, without having as yet lost any thing of 
their original purity. Their ministers gain respect as 
writers, and their pulpit discourses are studied and 
judicious. The most unfavourable circumstance of this 
era is, that those who dissent, are very apt to acquire 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 159 

a critical and disputatious spirit : for being continually 
called upon to defend doctrines in which they differ 
from the generality, their attention is early turned to 
the argumentative part of religion ; and hence we see 
that sermons which afford food for this taste, are with 
them thought of more importance than prayer and 
praise, though these latter are undoubtedly the more 
genuine and indispensible parts of public worship. 

This then is the second period ;' the third approaches 
fast ; men grow tired of a controversy which becomes 
insipid from being exhausted ; persecution has not 
only ceased, it begins to be forgotten ; and from the 
absence of opposition in either kind, springs a fatal 
and spiritless indifference. That sobriety, industry, 
and abstinence from fashionable pleasures, which dis- 
tinguished the fathers, has made the sons wealthy ; and, 
eager to enjoy their riches, they long to mix with 
that world, a separation from which was the best 
guard to their virtues. A secret shame creeps in 
upon them, when they acknowledge their relation 
to a disesteemed sect ; they therefore endeavour to 
file off its peculiarities, but in so doing they destroy 
its very being. Connexions with the establishment, 
whether of intimacy, business, or relationship, which 
formerly, from their superior zeal, turned to the ad- 
vantage of the sect, now operate against it. Yet these 
connexions are formed more frequently than ever ; 
and those who a little before, soured by the memory 
of recent suffering, betrayed perhaps an aversion from 
having any thing in common with the church, now 
affect to come as near it as possible ; and, like a little 
boat that takes a large vessel in tow, the sure conse- 
quence is, the being drawn into its vortex. They 
aim at elegance and show in their places of worship, 
the appearance of their preachers, &c, and thus im- 
politicly awaken a taste it is impossible they should 



160 THOUGHTS ON THE 

ever gratify. They have worn off many forbidding 
singularities, and are grown more amiable and pleasing. 
But those singularities were of use : they set a mark 
upon them, they pointed them out to the world, and 
thus obliged persons, so distinguished, to exemplary 
strickness. No longer obnoxious to the world, they 
are open to all the seductions of it. Their minister, 
that respectable character which once inspired reve- 
rence and affectionate esteem, their teacher and their 
guide, is now dwindled into the mere leader of the 
public devotions ; or, lower yet, a person hired to 
entertain them every week with an elegant discourse. 
In proportion as his importance decreases, his salary 
sits heavy on the people ; and he feels himself depress- 
ed by that most cruel of all mortifications to a generous 
mind, the consciousness of being a burden upon those 
from whom he derives his scanty support. Unhappily, 
amidst this change of manners, there are forms of 
strictness, and a set of phrases introduced in their first 
enthusiasm, which still subsist : these they are asham- 
ed to use, and know not how to decline ; and their 
behaviour, in consequence of them, is awkward and 
irresolute. Those who have set out with the largest 
share of mysticism and flighty zeal, find themselves 
particularly embarrassed by this circumstance. 

When things are come to this crisis, their tendency 
is evident : and though the interest and name of a 
sect may be kept up for a time by the generosity of 
former ages, the abilities of particular men, or that 
reluctance which keeps a generous mind from break- 
ing old connexions ; it must, in a short course of years, 
melt away into the establishment, the womb and the 
grave of all other modes of religion. 

An establishment affects the mind by splendid 
buildings, music, the mysterious pomp of ancient cere- 
monies ; by the sacredness of peculiar orders, habits, 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 161 

and titles ; by its secular importance ; and by con- 
necting with religion, ideas of order, dignity, and an- 
tiquity. It speaks to the heart through the imagination 
and the senses ; and though it never can raise devo- 
tion so high as we have described it in a beginning 
sect, it will preserve it from ever sinking into contempt. 
As, to a woman in the glow of health and beauty, the 
most careless dress is the most becoming, but when 
the freshness of youth is worn off, greater attention is 
necessary, and rich ornaments are required to throw 
an air of dignity round her person ; so while a sect 
retains its first plainness, simplicity and affectionate 
zeal, it wants nothing an establishment could give ; 
but that once declined, the latter becomes far more 
respectable. The faults of an establishment grow 
venerable from length of time ; the improvements of 
a sect appear whimsical from their novelty. Ancient 
families, fond of rank, and of that order which secures 
it to them, are on the side of the former. Traders 
incline to the latter ; and so do generally men of 
genius, as it favours their originality of thinking. An 
establishment leans to superstition, a sect to enthu- 
siasm ; the one is a more dangerous and violent ex- 
cess, the other more fatally debilitates the powers of 
the mind ; the one is a deeper colouring, the other a 
more lasting dye ; but the coldness and languor of a 
declining sect produces scepticism. Indeed, a sect is 
never stationary, as it depends entirely on passions 
and opinions ; though it often attains excellence, it 
never rests in it, but is always in danger of one extreme 
or the other ; whereas an old establishment, whatever 
else it may want, possesses the grandeur arising from 
stability. 

We learn to respect whatever respects itself; and 
are easily led to think that system requires no alter- 
ation, which never admits of any. It is this circum- 
14* 



162 THOUGHTS ON THE 

stance, more than any other, which gives a dignity to 
that accumulated mass of error, the church of Rome. 
A fabric which has weathered many successive ages, 
though the architecture be rude, the parts dispropor- 
tionate, and overloaded with ornament, strikes us with 
a sort of admiration, merely from its having held so 
long together. 

The minister of a sect, and of an establishment, is 
upon a very different footing. The former is like the 
popular leader of an army ; he is obeyed with en- 
thusiasm w T hile he is obeyed at all ; but his influence 
depends on opinion, and is entirely personal ; the 
latter resembles a general appointed by the monarch ; 
he has soldiers less warmly devoted to him, but more 
steady, and better disciplined. The dissenting teach- 
er is nothing, if he have not the spirit of a martyr ; and 
is the scorn of the world, if he be not above the world. 
The clergyman, possessed of power and affluence, and 
for that reason chosen from among the better ranks of 
people, is respected as a gentleman, though not ven- 
erated as an apostle ; and as his profession generally 
obliges him to decent manners, his order is consider- 
ed as a more regular and civilized class of men than 
their fellow- subjects of the same rank. The dissent- 
ing teacher, separated from the people, but not raised 
above them, invested with no power, entitled to no 
emoluments, if he cannot acquire for himself authority, 
must feel the bitterness of dependence. The min- 
isters of the former denomination cannot fall, but in 
some violent convulsion of the state : those of the lat- 
ter, when indifference and mutual neglect begin to 
succeed to that close union which once subsisted be- 
tween them" and their followers, lose their former in- 
fluence without resource ; the dignity and weight of 
their office is gone for ever ; they feel the insignifi- 
cancy of their pretensions, their spirits sink, and, ex- 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 163 

cept they take refuge in some collateral pursuit, and 
stand candidates for literary fame, they slide into an 
ambiguous and undecided character ; their time is too 
often sacrificed to frivolous compliances ; their man- 
ners lose their austerity, without having proportionally 
gained in elegance ; the world does not acknowledge 
them, for they are not of the world ; it cannot esteem 
them, for they are not superior to the world. 

Upon the whole, then it should seem, that the strict- 
ness of a sect (and it can only be respectable by being 
strict) is calculated for a few finer spirits, who make 
religion their chief object. As to the much larger 
number, on whom she has only an imperfect influence, 
making them decent if not virtuous, and meliorating 
the heart without greatly changing it ; for all these 
the genius of an establishment is more eligible, and 
better fitted to cherish that moderate devotion of which 
alone they are capable. All those who have not 
strength of mind to think for themselves, who would 
live to virtue without denying the world, who wish 
much to be religious, but more to be genteel, natural- 
ly flow into the establishment. If it offered no motives 
to their minds, but such as are perfectly pure and 
spiritual, their devotion would not for that be more 
exalted, it would die away to nothing ; and it is better 
their minds should receive only a tincture of religion, 
than be wholly without it. Those too, whose passions 
are regular and equable, and who do not aim at ab- 
stracted virtues, are commonly placed to most advan- 
tage within the pale of the national faith. 

All the greater exertions of the mind, — spirit to 
reform, fortitude . and constancy to suffer, — can be 
expected only from those who, forsaking the common 
road, are exercised in a peculiar course of moral dis- 
cipline : but it should be remembered, that these ex- 
ertions cannot be expected from every character, nor 



164 THOUGHTS ON THE 

on every occasion. Indeed, religion is a sentiment 
which takes such strong hold on all the most power- 
ful principles of our nature, that it may easily be car- 
ried to excess. The Deity never meant our regards 
to him should engross the mind : that indifference to 
sensible objects, which many moralists preach, is not 
perhaps desirable, except where the mind is raised 
above its natural tone, and extraordinary situations 
call forth extraordinary virtues. 

If the peculiar advantages of a sect were well un- 
derstood, its followers would not be impatient of those 
moderate restraints which do not rise to persecution, 
nor affect any of their more material interests : for, 
do they not bind them closer to each other, cherish 
zeal, and keep up the love of liberty ? What is the 
language of such restraints ? Do they not say, with 
a prevailing voice, Let the timorous and the worldly 
depart ; no one shall be of this persuasion, who is not 
sincere, disinterested, conscientious. It is notwith- 
standing proper, that men should be sensible of all 
their rights, assert them boldly, and protest against 
every infringement ; for it may be of advantage to 
bear, what yet it is unjustifiable in others to inflict. 

Neither w T ould dissenters, if they attended to their 
real interests, be so ambitious as they generally are, 
of rich converts. Such converts only accelerate their 
decline ; they relax their discipline, and they acquire 
an influence very pernicious in societies which ought 
to breathe nothing but the spirit of equality. 

Sects are always strict in proportion to the corrup- 
tion of establishments and the licentiousness of the 
times, and they are useful in the same proportion. 
Thus the austere lives of the primitive christians coun- 
terbalanced the vices of that abandoned period ; and 
thus the puritans in the reign of Charles the Second 
seasoned with a wholesome severity, the profligacy of 



DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 165 

public manners. They were less amiable than their 
descendants of the present day ; but to be amiable 
was not the object : they were of public utility ; and 
their scrupulous sanctity (carried to excess, themselves 
only considered), like a powerful antiseptic, opposed 
the contagion breathed from a most dissolute court. 
In like manner, that sect, one of whose most striking 
characteristics is a beautiful -simplicity of dialect, serv- 
ed to check that strain of servile flattery and Gothic 
compliment so prevalent in the same period, and to 
keep up some idea of that manly plainness with which 
one human being ought to address another. 

Thus have we seen that different modes of religion, 
though they bear little good-will to each other, are 
nevertheless mutually useful. Perhaps there is not 
an establishment so corrupt, as not to make the gross 
of mankind better than they would be without it. 
Perhaps there is not a sect so eccentric, but that it 
has set some one truth in the strongest light, or car- 
ried some one virtue, before neglected, to its utmost 
height, or loosened some obstinate and long-rooted 
prejudice. They answer their end ; they die away ; 
others spring up, and take their place. So the purer 
part of the element, continually drawn off from the 
mighty mass of waters, forms rivers, which, running 
in various directions, fertilize large countries; yet, 
always tending towards the ocean, every accession to 
their bulk or grandeur but precipitates their course, 
and hastens their re-union with the common reservoir 
from which they are separated. 

In the mean time, the devout heart always finds 
associates suitable ta its disposition, and the particular 
cast of its virtues ; while the continual flux and reflux 
of opinions prevents the active principles from stagnat- 
ing. There is an analogy between things material 
and immaterial. As, from some late experiments irt 



166 ON THE DEVOTIONAL TASTE, &c. 

philosophy, it has been found that the process of veg- 
etation restores and purifies vitiated air ; so does that 
moral and political ferment which accompanies the 
growth of new sects, communicate a kind of spirit and 
elasticity necessary to the vigour and health of the 
soul, but soon lost amidst the corrupted breath of an 
indiscriminate multitude. 

There remains only to add, lest the preceding view 
of sects and establishments should in any degree be 
misapprehended, that it has nothing to do with the truth 
of opinions, and relates only to the influence which 
the adventitious circumstances attending them, may 
have upon the manners and morals of their followers. 
It is therefore calculated to teach us candour, but not 
indifference. Large views of the moral polity of the 
world may serve to illustrate the providence of God in 
his different dispensations, but are not made to regulate 
our own individual conduct, which must conscientious- 
ly follow our own opinions and belief. We may see 
much good in an establishment, the doctrines of which 
we cannot give our assent to without violating our in- 
tegrity ; we may respect the tendencies of a sect, the 
tenets of which we utterly disapprove. We may think 
practices useful, which we cannot adopt without hy- 
pocrisy. We may think all religions beneficial, and 
believe of one alone that it is true. 



167 



THE CURE OF THE BANKS OF THE 



RHONE. 

WRITTEN IN 1791. 



A friend of mind, who pretends to have very good 
information from the Continent, communicated to me 
the following account : I confess it comes in a shape 
a little questionable : however, I send it you, Mr. 
Editor, exactly as my friend read it to me, from a 
private letter which he said he had just received. 

" A few days after the bishop of Paris and his 
vicars had set the example of renouncing their clerical 
character, a cure from a village on the banks of the 
Rhone, followed by some of his parishioners with an 
offering of gold and silver saints, chalices, rich vest- 
ments, &c, presented himself at the bar of the House. 
The sight of the gold put the Convention in a very 
good humour, and the cure, a thin venerable looking 
man with gray hairs, was ordered to speak. ' I come,' 

said he, t from the village of , where the only 

good building standing (for the chateau has been pul- 
led down) is a very fine church ; my parishioners beg 
you will take it to make an hospital for the sick and 
wounded of both parties, — they are both equally our 
countrymen : the gold and silver, part of which we 
have brought you, they entreat you will devote to the 
service of the state, and that you will cast the bells in- 
to cannon to drive away its foreign invaders : for my- 
self, I come with great pleasure to resign my letters of 
ordination, of induction, and every deed and title by 



168 THE CURE OF THE BANKS 

which I have been constituted a member of your 
ecclesiastical polity. Here are the papers ; you may 
burn them, if you please, in the same fire with the 
genealogical trees and patents of the nobility. I de- 
sire likewise, that you will discontinue my salary. 
I am still able to support myself by the labour of my 
hands, and I beg of you to believe that I never felt 
sincefer joy than I now do in making this renunciation* 
I have longed to see this day ; I see it, and am glad.' 
" When the old man had done speaking, the ap- 
plauses were immoderate. You are an honest man, 
said they all at once ; you are a brave fellow ; you 
do not believe in God ; — and the president advanced 
to give him the fraternal embrace. The cure did not 
seem greatly elated with these tokens of approbation ; 
he retired back a few steps, and thus resumed his 
discourse. ' Before you applaud my sentiments, it is 
fit you should understand them ; perhaps they may 
not entirely coincide with your own. 1 rejoice in this 
day, not because I wish to see religion degraded, but 
because I wish to see it exalted and purified. By 
dissolving its alliance with the state, you have given it 
dignity and independence. You have done it a piece 
of service which its well-wishers would, perhaps, never 
have had courage to render it, but which is the only 
thing wanted to make it appear in its genuine beauty 
and lustre. Noboby will now say of me, that I am 
performing the offices of my religion as a trade ; he is 
paid for telling the people such and such things ; he 
is hired to keep up an useless piece of mummery. 
They cannot now say this, and therefore I feel my- 
self raised in my own esteem, and shall speak to them 
with a confidence and frankness which, before this, I 
never durst venture to assume. We resign without 
reluctance our gold and silver images and embroidered 
vestments, because we have never found that gold and 



. 



OF THE RHONE. 169 

silver made the heart more pure, or the affections 
more heavenly : we can also spare our churches, for 
the heart that wishes to lift itself up to God, will never 
be at a loss for room to do it in : but we cannot spare 
our religion ; because, to tell you the truth, we never 
had so much occasion for it. I understand that you 
accuse us priests of having told the people a great 
many falsehoods. I suspect this may have been the 
case ; but till this day we have never been allowed to 
inquire, whether the things which we taught them were 
true or not. You required us formerly to receive 
them all without proof, and you would have us now 
reject them all without discrimination ; neither of these 
modes of conduct becomes philosophers, such as you 
would be thought to be. I am going to employ my- 
self diligently along with my parishioners to sift the 
wheat from the chaff, the true from the false : if we 
are not successful, we shall be at least sincere. I do 
fear, indeed, that while I wore these vestments which 
we have brought you, and spoke in that gloomy 
building which we have given up to you, I told my 
flock a great many idle stories. I cannot but hope, 
however, that the errors we have fallen into have not 
been very material, since the village has been in gen- 
eral sober and good, the peasants are honest, docile, 
and laborious, the husbands love their wives, and the 
wives their husbands; they are fortunately not too 
rich to be compassionate, and they have constantly 
relieved the sick and fugitives of all parties, whenever 
it has lain in their way. I think therefore, what I 
have taught them cannot be so very much amiss. 
You want to extirpate priests ; but will you hinder the 
ignorant from applying for instruction, the unhappy 
for comfort and hope, the unlearned from looking up 
to the learned ? If you do not, you will have priests, 
by whatever name you may order them to be called : 

VOL. II. 15 



170 THE CURE ON THE BANKS 

but it certainly is not necessary they should wear a 
particular dress, or be appointed by state-letters of 
ordination. My letters of ordination are my zeal, my 
charity, my ardent love for my dear children of the 
village ; if I were more learned, I would add my 
knowledge, but alas ! we all know very little ; to man 
every error is pardonabje, but want of humility. We 
have a public walk with a spreading elm at the end of 
it, and a circle of green around it, with a convenient 
bench. Here I shall draw together the children 
as they are playing around me. I shall point to the 
vines laden with fruit, to the orchards, to the herds of 
cattle lowing around us, to the distant hills, stretching 
one behind another ; and they will ask me, How came 
all these things ? I shall tell them all I know or have 
heard from wise men wiio have lived before me ; they 
will be penetrated with love and veneration ; they will 
kneel, — I shall kneel with them ; they will not be at 
my feet, but all of us at the feet of that good Being, 
whom we shall worship together ; and thus they will 
receive within their tender minds a religion. — The old 
men will come sometimes from having deposited under 
the green sod, one of their companions, and place 
themselves by my side ; they will look wistfully at 
the turf, and anxiously inquire — Is he gone for ever ? 
Shall we soon be like him ? Will no morning break 
over the tomb ? When the wicked cease from 
troubling, will the good cease from doing good ? We 
will talk of these things : I will comfort them. I will 
tell them of the goodness of God ; I will speak to 
them of a life to come ; I will bid them hope for a 
state of retribution. — In a clear night, when the stars 
slide over our heads, they will ask what these bright 
bodies are, and by what rules they rise and set ? and 
we will converse about different forms of being, and 
distant worlds in the immensity of space, governed by 



OF THE RHONE. 171 

the same laws, till we feel our minds raised from what 

is grovelling, and refined from what is sordid. You 

talk of Nature, — this is Nature ; and if you could at 
this moment extinguish religion in the minds of the world, 
it would thus be kindled again, and thus again excite 
the curiosity, and interest the feelings oi mankind. 
You have changed our holidays ; you have an un- 
doubted right, as our civil governors, so to do ; it is 
very immaterial whether they are kept once in seven 
days, or once in ten ; some, however, you will leave 
us, and when they occur, I shall tell those who choose 
to hear me, of the beauty and utility of virtue, of the 
dignity of right conduct. We shall talk of good men 
who have lived in the world, and of the doctrines they 
taught ; and if any of them have been persecuted, 
and put to death for their virtue, we shall reverence 
their memories the more. — I hope in all this there is 
no harm. There is a book, out of w T hich I have some- 
times taught my people ; it says, we are to love those 
who do us hurt, and to pour oil and wine into the 
wounds of the stranger. It has enabled my children 
to bear patiently the spoiling of their goods, and to 
give up their own interest for the general welfare. I 
think it cannot be a very bad book. I wish more of 
it had been read in your town, perhaps you would not 
have had quite so many assassinations and massacres. 
In this book we hear of a person called Jesus : some 
worship him as a God ; others, as I am told, say it is 
wrong to do so ; — some teach, that he existed from 
the beginning of ages ; others, that he w^as born of 
Joseph and Mary. I cannot tell whether these con- 
troversies will ever be decided ; but in the mean time 
I think we cannot do otherwise than w 7 ell, in imitating 
him ; for I learn that he loved the poor, and went 
about doing good. 



172 THE CURE OF THE RHONE. 

" ' Fellow citizens, as I travelled hither from my 
own village, I saw peasants sitting among the smoking 
ruins of their cottages ; rich men and women reduced 
to miserable poverty ; fathers lamenting their children 
in the bloom and pride of youth : and I said to my- 
self, these people cannot afford to part with their 
religion. But indeed you cannot take it away ; if, 
contrary to your first declaration, you choose to try 
the experiment of persecuting it, you will only make 
us prize it more, and love it better. Religion, true 
or false, is so necessary to the mind of man, that even 
you have begun to make yourselves a new one. You 
are sowing the seeds of superstition ; and in two or 
three generations your posterity will be worshipping 
some clumsy idol, with the rights, perhaps, of a bloody 
Moloch, or a lascivious Thammuz. It was not worth 
.while to have been philosophers and destroyed the 
images of our saints, for this ; but let every one choose 
the religion that pleases him ; I and my parishioners 
are content with ours, — it teaches us to bear the evils 
your childish or sanguinary decrees have helped to 
bring upon the country.' " 

The cure turned his footsteps homeward, and the 
Convention looked for some minutes on one another,, 
before they resumed their work of blood, 



ITS 



ZEPHYRUS AND FLORA. 



LETTER TO MRS. W . 

DEAR MADAM, 

I think it my duty, as well from the high esteem 
I bear yourself, as from the tender and solicitous 
affection I feel for your lovely daughter, to inform you 
of an affair between her and one who has lately been 
fluttering about her ; and for whom, young as she is, 
she seems to have conceived an extraordinary in- 
clination. Of this you will be convinced, madam, 
when I assure you she often walks in the fields pur- 
posely to meet him ; and that on her return I have 
seen her lips and cheeks improved in their colour by 
his kisses. It is but within these few weeks that this 
lover of hers has frequented the environs of Hampstead, 
for he spent the winter between Lisbon and the Canary 
Islands ; and since his return, w r hich by her has been 
passionately longed for, her fondness for walking has 
been much more apparent. Her excursions to the 
Heath, and her parties to West-end, particularly when 
she gave me the slip the other day, have been all 
planned with the hope of meeting him. Nor can I 
wonder, indeed, that she admires so pretty a fellow ; 
for he is a light airy being like herself, as playful and 
as frolicksome. He dresses in a light garment of the 
thinnest blue silk, fluttering in a thousand different 
folds, and by way of epaulette two silver wings peep- 
ing above his shoulders. His breath is made up of 
sighs, and perfumed with violets ; and his whispers, 
15* 



174 ZEPHYRUS AND FLORA. 

especially at this season of the year, have a certain 
prevailing languishment and softness in them, that few 
can resist. He is fond of caressing the opening roses ; 
and no birthnight beau is more powerfully scented 
with Mareschal powder than he is with every blossom 
of the spring. But then he is a general lover, incon- 
stant as he is gay ; noted for levity, here today and 
gone tomorrow, hovering about every beautiful object 
without attaching himself to one. To fix him, would 
be as difficult as to arrest a sunbeam or to hold a wave 
between your fingers. Yet I am sorry to say, madam, 
your daughter absolutely courts this volage, and allows 
him liberties which a prudent mother like yourself 
must tremble at. He delights to play with her fair 
hair ; sometimes he throws it over her forehead, and 
almost covers her face with it. Sometimes he takes 
a single lock, and plays it about her temples ; now he 
spreads her tresses all over her graceful shoulders ; 
and then lifts them up, or gently parts them, to dis- 
cover the elegant turn and whiteness of her neck, giv- 
ing them all the while a thousand kisses. Why need 
I mention what passes before your eyes, under your 
own window 7 ? It is there that I have seen him busied 
in wafting her to and fro with an easy motion, when 
her light form dances through the air in the swing 
you have lately put up, while he catches her fluttering 
garment and throws it into every varying fold his 
fancy dictates. It may be, however, that you may 
not think these sportive liberties of great consequence 
to one so young as your daughter is : but I am not 
without apprehensions that he may some day or other 
absolutely run away with her. I the rather fear this, 
as a brother of his, a rough, blustering fellow, did once 
carry off a young lady whose parents had rejected 
his addresses, as is well known to all who are acquaint- 
ed with the anecdotes of the family. It is true, he 



ZEPHYRUS AND FLORA. 175 

that I speak of, has neither the strength nor the im- 
petuosity of his brother ; but when 1 consider the 
peculiar lightness and airiness of the nymph in question, 
the enterprise appears to me very practicable. 

I have only to add, that his amour with Flora* is 
of long standing ; and so little is it a secret in the 
world, that every schoolboy is acquainted with it. I 
doubt not, madam, but you will take the measures 
your prudence must suggest on this occasion. All 
my motive in this affair has been to prove with how 
much zeal and affection I am, 

dear madam, 

Your devoted and obedient. 



* The name of this young lady was Flora* 






176 



ON EVIL :— A RHAPSODY. 



O evil, creature abhorred of God and man ! — 
whence is thy origin ? how did so deformed and mon- 
strous a birth gain entrance into the fair creation ? 
Canst thou be from God, — since thou art so opposite 
to his nature ? And if from man, — why was he suffered 
to produce thee ? Weak, unexperienced, unsuspecting 
man, — why was he permitted to bring such enormous 
ruin on his own head, and that of all his posterity ? 
Was there no warning voice, no sheltering hand, to 
save him from such a fall — to save thy image, O God, 
from pollution ? Let us sit down in sad shades, and 
join the moral poet, 

44 Who mourns for virtue lost, and ruined man.'* 

What fair, what amiable creatures were our first 
parents when they came from the hands of their 
Maker ! They knew neither Pain, nor Sin, the sire 
of Pain ; nor Shame, the daughter of Sin. Innocent, 
happy, and immortal : — so far from practising evil, 
that they had not even the knowledge of it. Their 
passions, nicely balanced, admitted no internal war. 
A milky innocence in their veins, their eyes beaming 
with smiles, — the smiles of candour and simplicity, — 
they were the head of the happy creation, till one 
fatal moment ruined all : — the garden of paradise is 
shut for ever ; and man (unhappy outcast !) — expos- 
ed to the war elements without and passions within ; 
his peace broken, his heart torn by the conflict of 
jarring emotions ; his life worn away by perplexing 



ON EVIL :— A RHAPSODY. 177 

doubts and heart-withering care, — moistens his daily 
bread with tears : and after struggling a few years in 
the hard, unequal warfare, he returns to the dust from 
whence he was taken. 

Such is the dark side of the picture. — But let us 
change the view, and see whether in reality the human 
race have such great reason to lament the fall of their 
first progenitor. Whether virtuous man now, is not a 
nobler creature than sinless man then ? — the pupil of 
reason, than the child of nature ?-r-the follower of the 
second, than the offspring of the first Adam ? Man in 
his first state had a mind untainted with crimes ; but 
unformed, uncultivated, void of moral ideas, he could 
not rise, but by his fall ; he could not attain to more 
perfection, but by moral discipline ; he could not know 
the joys of self-approbation, without being subject to 
remorse, — of sympathy, without feeling distress. Had 
he been always innocent, he had been nothing more 
than innocent ; — had he never known his weakness, 
he had never acquired strength. Behold him now, 
fashioned by the hand of culture, and shining through 
the dark cloud of ruin, guilt and pain, that is spread 
over him. What a different creature from the former 
man ! He now knows vice, but abhors it ; temp- 
tation, but resists it ; error, but he laments it. His 
passions were once balanced, they are now subdued ; 
he has tasted good and evil, and he knows to choose 
the one and refuse the other. Intellectual ideas 
crowd upon him, and a new world opens within his 
breast. His nature is raised, refined, exalted : he 
lives by faith, by devotion, by spiritual communion, 
by repentance — he, weeping beneath the bitter cross, 
washes off the stain of sin. The world is beneath 
his feet ; for behold he prayeth, and things unseen 
become present to his soul. Meek resignation blunts 
the edge of suffering ; and triumphant hope looks be- 



178 ON EVIL:— A RHAPSODY. 

yond all suffering, to glory and to joy. Thus advanc- 
ing through life, he learns some. new lesson at every 
step, — till by receiving, but still more by conferring, 
benefits ; by bearing, and still further by forgiving, 
injuries, — his mind is disciplined, his moral sense 
awakened, his taste for beauty, order and rectitude, 
unfolded. He becomes endeared to those he has 
wept and prayed and struggled with through this vale 
of sin and suffering ; he learns to pity and to love his 
fellow-partners of mortality ; till at length the divine 
flame of universal charity begins to kindle in his 
breast. Then is the aera of a new birth ; then does 
he become partaker of a divine nature : sense is 
mortified, passion is subdued, self is annihilated. And 
is not this a noble creature ? a being worth forming 
by so expensive and painful a process ? a being God 
may delight in ? a faithful, well-disciplined soldier, fit 
to cooperate in any plan, or mingle with any order of 
rational and moral beings throughout the wide creation ? 
Place him where you will, he has learned to follow, 
to trust in, the Supreme Being ; he has learned 
humility from his errors, steadiness and watchfulness 
from his weakness ; his virtues depend not now on 
constitution, but on firm principles and established 
habits. Is this the feeble being whose infant mind 
was unable to resist the allurements of forbidden fruit ? 
who so easily listened to the seduction of the tempter ? 
See him now resisting unto blood, superior to principal- 
ities and powers, to wicked men and bad angels : — 
neither terrors nor pleasures can move him. He once 
believed not the living voice of his Maker ; having not 
seen, he now believes. His gratitude once was faint 
and languid, though he was surrounded w T ith pleasant 
things : he now loves God, though overwhelmed with 
sorrow 7 and pain ; trusts in him, though surrounded 
with difficulties ; hopes even against hope, and prays 



ON EVIL:— A RHAPSODY. 179 

without ceasing. His hopes now are superior to his 
joys then. Glorious exchange ! from reposing on 
flowers, to tread upon stars, — from naked purity, to a 
robe of glory, — from the food which cometh out of the 
earth, to the bread which cometh down from heaven. 
For ignorance of ill, he hath knowledge of good ; for 
smiles of innocence, tears of rapture ; for the bowers 
of paradise, the gates of heaven. Hadst thou, Adam, 
never fallen, shepherds and husbandmen only would 
have sprung from thee ; — now patriots, martyrs, con- 
fessors, apostles ! 



180 



DIALOGUE 

BETWEEN MADAME COSMOGUNIA AND A PHILOSOPHICAL 
INQUIRER OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 



January 1, 1793. 



E. I rejoice, my good madam, to see you. You 
bear your years extremely well. You really look as 
fresh and blooming this morning as if you were but 
just out of your leading strings ; and yet you have — 
I forget how many centuries upon your shoulders. 

C. Do not you know, son, that people of my stand- 
ing are by no means fond of being too nicely question- 
ed about their years ? Besides, my age is a point by 
no means agreed upon. 

E. I thought it was set down in the church register ? 

C That is true ; but every body does not go by 
your register. The people who live eastward of us, 
and have sold tea time out of mind, by the great wall, 
say, I am older by a vast deal ; and that long before 
the time when your people pretend I was born, I had 
near as much wisdom and learning as I have now. 

E. I do not know how that matter might be ; one 
thing I am certain of, that you did not know your 
letters then ; and every body knows that these tea- 
dealers, who are very vain, and want to go higher than 
any body else for the antiquity of their family are noted 
for lying. 

C. On the other hand, old Isaac, the great chroni- 
cler, who was so famous for casting a figure, used to 
say that the register itself had been altered, and that 



DIALOGUE. 181 

he could prove I was much younger than you have 
usually reckoned me to be. It may be so : — for my 
part, I cannot be supposed to remember so far back. 
I could not write in my early youth, and it was a long- 
time before I had a pocket-almanack to set down all oc- 
currences in, and the ages of my children, as I do now. 

E. Well ; your exact age is not so material ; — but 
there is one point which I-confess I wish much to as- 
certain. I have often heard it asserted, that as you 
increase in years, you grow wiser and better ; and that 
you are at this moment, more candid, more liberal, a 
better manager of your affairs, and, in short, more amia- 
ble in every respect, than ever you were in the whole 
course of your life ; and others, — you will excuse me, 
madam, — pretend that you are almost in your dotage ; 
that you grow more intolerable every year you live ; 
and that whereas in your childhood you were a 
sprightly, innocent young creature, that rose with the 
lark, lay down with the lamb, and thought or said no 
fearm of any one ; you are become suspicious, selfish, 
interested, fond of nothing but indulging your appe- 
tites, and continually setting your own children together 
by the ears for straws. Now I should like to know 
where the truth lies ? 

C. As to that, I am, perhaps, too nearly concerned 
to answer you properly. I will, therefore, only ob- 
serve, that I do not remember the time when I have 
not heard exactly the same contradictory assertions. 

E. I believe the best way to determine the question 
will be by facts. Pray be so good as to tell me how 
you have employed yourself in the different periods of 
your life ; from the earliest time you can remember, 
for instance ? 

C. I have a very confused remembrance of living 
in a pleasant garden full of fruit, and of being turned 
out because I had not minded the injunctions that 

VOL. II. 16 



182 DIALOGUE. 

were laid upon me. After that I became so very 
naughty, that I got a severe ducking, and was in great 
danger of being drowned. 

E. A hopeful beginning, I must allow ! Pray what 
was the first piece of work you recollect being engag- 
ed in ? 

C. I remember setting myself to build a prodigious 
high house of cards, which I childishly thought I could 
raise up to the very skies. I piled them up very high, 
and at last left off in the middle, and had my tongue 
slit for being so self-conceited. Afterwards I baked 
dirt in the sun, and resolved to make something very 
magnificent, I hardly knew what ; so I built a great 
many mounds in the form of sugar-loaves, very broad 
at bottom and pointed at top : — they took me a great 
many years to make, and were fit for no earthly pur- 
pose when they were done. They are still to be seen r 
if you choose to take the trouble of going so far. 
Travellers call them my folly. 

E. Pray what studies took your attention when you 
first began to learn ? 

C. At first I amused myself, as all children do, with 
pictures ; and drew, or rather attempted to draw, 
figures of lions and serpents, and men with the heads 
of animals, and women with fishes' tails ; to all which 
I affixed a meaning, often whimsical enough. Many 
of these my first scratches are still to be seen upon 
old walls and stones, and have greatly exercised the 
ingenuity of the curious to find out what I could possi- 
bly mean by them. Afterwards, when I had learned 
to read, I was wonderfully entertained with stories of 
giants, griffins, and mermaids ; and men and women 
turned into trees, and horses that spoke, and of an old 
man that used to eat up his children, till his wife de- 
ceived him by giving him a stone to eat instead of 
one of them ; and of a conjurer that tied up the wine! 
in bags, and- 



DIALOGUE. 183 

E. Hold, hold, my good madam ! you have given 
me a very sufficient proof of that propensity to the 
marvellous which I have always remarked in you. I 
suppose, however, you soon grew too old for such 
nursery stories as these. 

C. On the contrary, I amused myself with putting 
them into verse, and had them sung to me on holi- 
days ; and, at this very day, I make a point of teach- 
ing them to all my children in whose education I take 
any pains. 

E. I think I should rather whip them for employing 
their time so idly ; 1 hope at least these pretty stories 
kept you out of mischief ? 

C. I cannot say they did ; I never was without a 
scratched face, or a bloody nose, at any period I can 
remember. 

JE. Very promising dispositions, truly ! 

C My amusements were not all so mischievous. I 
was very fond of star-gazing, and telling fortunes, and 
trying a thousand tricks for good luck, many of which 
have made such an impression on my mind, that I 
remember them even to this day. 

JS. I hope, however, your reading was not all of 
the kind you have mentioned ? 

C, No. It was at some very famous races, which 
were held every four years for my diversion, and which 
I always made a point to be at, that a man once came 
upon the race-ground, and read a history-book aloud 
to the whole company : there were, to be sure, a 
number of stories in it not greatly better than those I 
have been telling you ; however, from that time, I be- 
gan to take to more serious learning, and likewise to 
reckon and date all my accounts by these races, 
which, as I told you, I was very fond of. 

E. I think you afterwards went to school, and 
learnt philosophy and mathematics ? 



184 DIALOGUE, 

C. I did so. I had a great many famous masters. 

E, Were you a teachable scholar ? 

C. One of my masters used always to weep when 
lie saw me ; another used always to burst into a fit of 
laughter. I leave you to guess what they thought of 
me. 

E. Pray what did you do when you were in middle 
age ? — that is usually esteemed the most valuable part 
of life. 

C I somehow got shut up in a dark cell, where I 
look a long nap. 

.E. And after you waked 

C I fell a-disputing with all my might. 

E. What were the subjects that interested you sO 
much ? 

C. Several. 

E. Pray let us have a specimen ? 

C. Whether the light of Tabor was created or un- 
created ; whether one be a number ; whether men- 
should cross themselves with two fingers or with three ; 
whether the creation was finished in six days, because 
it is the most perfect number ; or whether six is the 
most perfect number, because the creation was finish- 
ed in six days ; whether two and one make three, or 
only one,, 

E. And pray what may be your opinion, of the 
last proposition, particularly ? 

C. I have by no means made up my mind about it ; 
in another century, perhaps, 1 may be able to decide 
upon the point. 

jE. These debates of yours had one advantage, 
however ; you could not possibly put yourself in a 
passion on such kind of subjects. 

C. There you are very much mistaken. I was 
constantly in a passion upon one or other of them : 
and if my opponent did not agree with me, my eon- 



DIALOGUE. 

Main practice was to knock him down, even if it were 
in the church. I have the happiness of being able to 
interest myself in the most indifferent questions, a> 
soon as I am contradicted upon it. I can make a 
very good dispute out of the question, Whether the 
preference be due to blue or green, in the colour of a 
jockey's cap-; and would desire no better cause of a 
quarrel than whether a person's name should be spelt 
with C or with K- 

E. These constant disputes must have had a very 
bad effect on your younger children. How do you 
hope ever to have a quiet house ? 

C. And yet, I do assure you, there is no one point 
that I have laboured more than that important one of 
family harmony. 

E. Indeed 1 

C. Yes; for the sake of that order and unanimity, 
which has always been dear to me, I have constantly 
insisted that all my children should sneeze and blow 
their noses at the same time, and in the same manner. 

jEJ. May I presume to ask the reason of this injunc- 
tion? 

C. Is it possible you do not see the extreme dan- 
ger, as well as indecorum, of suffering every one to 
blow his nose his own way ? Could you trust any 
one with the keys of your offices, who sneezed to the 
right when other people sneezed to the left ; or to the 
left when they sneezed to the right ? 

E. I confess I am rather dull in discerning- the in- 
convenience that would ensue : — but pray have you 
been able to accomplish this desirable uniformity ? 

C I acknowledge I have not : and indeed I have 
met with so much obstinate resistance to this my wise 
regulation, that, to tell you the truth, I am almost on 
the point of giving it up. You would hardly believe 
the perverseness my children have shown on the oc- 
16* 



186 DIALOGUE. 

casion ; blowing their noses, locked up in their rooms,, 
or in dark corners about the house, in every possible 
way } so that, in short, on pretence of colds, tender 
noses, or want of pocket-handkerchiefs, or one plea 
or another, 1 have been obliged to tolerate the uncom- 
plying, very much against my will. However, I con- 
trived to show my disapprobation, at least, of such 
scandalous irregularities, by never saying God bless 
you, if a person sneezes in the family contrary to es- 
tablished rule. 

E. I am glad, at least, you are in this respect got 
a little nearer to common sense. As you seem to 
have been of so imperious a disposition, I hope you 
were not trusted with any mischievous weapons ? 

C At first I used to fight with clubs and stones ; 
afterwards with other weapons ; but at length I con- 
trived to get at gunpowder, and then I did glorious 
mischief. 

E. Pray, had you never any body who taught you 
better ? 

C. Yes ; several wise men, from time to time, at- 
tempted to mend my manners, and reform me, as they 
called it. 

jE. And how did you behave to them ? 

C. Some I hunted about ; some I poisoned ; some 
I contrived to have thrown into prison ; some I made 
bonfires of; others I only laughed at. It was but the 
other day that one of them wanted to give me some 
hints for the better regulation of my family ; upon 
which I pulled his house down : I was often, however, 
the better for the lesson, though the teacher had sel- 
dom the pleasure of seeing it. 

E. I have heard it said, you are very partial ta 
your children ; that you pamper some, and starve 
others. Pray who are your favourites ? 

C Generally those who do the most mischief. 



DIALOGUE, 187 

E. Had you not once a great favourite called Lou- 
is, whom you used to style the immortal man ? 

C. I had so. I was continually repeating his name ; 
I set up a great number of statues to him, and or- 
dered that every one should pull off his hat to them 
as he went by. 

E. And what is become of them now ? 

C. The other day, in a fit. of the spleen, I kicked 
them all down again. 

E. I think I have read that you were once much 
under the influence of an old man with a high-crown- 
ed hat, and a bunch of keys by his side ? 

C. It is true. He used to frighten me by setting 
his arms a-kimbo, and swearing most terribly ; besides 
which, he was always threatening to put me in a dark 
hole, if I did not do as he would have me. He has 
conjured many pence out of my pocket, I assure you; 
and he used to make me believe the strangest stories ! 
But I have now pretty nearly done with him ; he 
dares not speak so big as he used to do ; hardly a 
shoeblack will pull off his hat to him now ; it is even 
as much as he can do to keep his own tight upon his 
head ; nay, I have been assured that the next high wind 
will certainly blow 7 it off. 

E. You must doubtless have made great advances 
in the art of reasoning, from the various lights and 
experiments of modern times ; pray what was the last 
philosophical study that engaged your attention ? 

C. One of the last was a system of quackery, call- 
ed Animal Magnetism. 

E. And what in theology ? 

C. A system of quackery, called Swedenborgian- 
ism. 

E. And pray what are you doing at this moment ? 

C. I am going to turn over quite a new leaf. I am 
singing Ca Ira. 



488 DIALOGUE. 

E. I do not know whether you are going to turn 
over a new leaf or no ; hut L am sure, from this ac- 
count, it is high time you should. All I can say is, 
that if I cannot mend you, I will endeavour to take . 
care you do not spoil me ; and one thing more, that I 
wish you would lay your commands on Miss Burney 
to write a new novel, and make you laugh. 



189 



LETTER OF JOHN BULL.* 



Sir, 

I have long had the happiness of being married, 
as I have often said and sworn, to the best of all 
possible wives ; but as this best of all possible wives 
has a few fancies, which I should be glad she were 
cured of, I have taken the liberty to lay my case be- 
fore you. 

My wife, sir, has been much admired in her time, 
and still is, in my eye, a very desirable woman. But 
you well know, sir, that let wives wear as well as you 
can suppose, they will be the worse for wear ; — and 
so it is with my dame : and if I were to say that I can 
see in her neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, 
I should belie my own eyesight. I like her however, 
altogether, better than any woman I know ; and we 
should jog on quietly enough together, — -but that, of 
late, she has been pleased to insist upon my declaring, 
in all companies, that she is absolutely the handsomest 
woman under the sun ; and that none of my neigh- 
bours' wives are fit to hold the candle to her : and there 
is one 'Squire Edmund, a hectoring bullying fellow, 
who, they say, is a little cracked (a great favourite 
with my wife, notwithstanding, ever since he has flat- 
tered and spoke her fair ; for it is not long ago that 
he used to be drawing caricatures of her) ; — he, 1 say, 



* The following jeu d'esprit was wiitien about the year 1792, and 
refars to the unqualified declarations of attachment to the constitution 
then promulgated by certain associations to prove their loyalty. 



190 LETTER OF JOHN BULL. 

goes about everywhere, telling people I ought to chal- 
lenge any one who presumes to assert to the contrary. 
" Cara sposa" have I often said to her, "is it not 
sufficient if I love thee best, and that for the best reason, 
because thou art my wife ? I chose thee freely, and 
am content to be t to thy faults a little blind ;' but to 
be entirely so, is neither good for thee nor for me." — 
She lately made me sign a paper, that she was, in all 
parts, of the exact proportions of the Venus de' Medici ; 
though, Heaven knows ! I never measured them to- 
gether : and that not only there never was a more 
beautiful creature produced upon God's earth, but 
that it was utterly impossible for the imagination of 
man to conceive a more beautiful. I confess I was a 
good deal ashamed to make such boasts ; nevertheless, 
I complied, for the sake of peace. My wife, moreover, 
entertains an idea, that every man who sees her is 
in love with her : and, like Belise in the Femmes 
Sgavantes, she is resolved not to give up the point, 
though the best compliments she has met with of late 
from her neighbours have been, " that she looks very 
well for a woman of her years ; that she wears well, 
considering ; that she has fine remains, and that one 
may easily see she has been a handsome woman in her 
time." These are speeches, one would think, not 
very apt to feed her vanity ; yet, whenever she hears 
of a match that is likely to -take place, she cannot help 
fancying the lover was attracted by some remote 
resemblance to her admired person. " Yes," she will 
cry on such occasions, " there was a tint of my com- 
plexion, which did the business ; not so brilliant in- 
deed — something of my majestic look — and an evident 
imitation of my walk." With all this opinion of her- 
self, my poor wife, especially of late, has been distract- 
edly jealous of me. She is continually teasing me 
with embarrassing questions ; as, whether I love her 



LETTER OF JOHN BULL. 191 

as well as I did on my wedding-day ; whether I will 
promise to love her if she should be blind, or de- 
crepid, or out of her wits," he. — A circumstance has 
occurred lately, which has increased this jealousy 
tenfold. My next-door neighbour, you must know, 
is married again ; and ever since that event she 
watches me as a cat watches a mouse. I cannot 
look out of the window, or enquire which way the 
wind sets, but it is in order to admire my neighbour's 
new wife. She pretends to have found love-letters 
which have passed between us ; and is sure, she 
says, I design to part with her, " false hearted man as 
lam;" upon which, the other day, she threw herself 
into violent hysterics, and alarmed the whole family 
and neighbourhood. 

To be sure, the bride did send me a favour, which 
I w 7 ore in my hat, openly ; and I do not deny but I 
may have paid her a few compliments, and written 
some verses upon her, for she is a showy, fine-spoken 
woman ; but for all that, I would not marry her if I 
were free tomorrow ; for, to tell you the truth, I 
suspect her to be too much of a termagant for me ; 
and besides, John Bull is not given to change. 

My wife has another failing, sir. She is fond of 
every thing that is old, because it is old ; and she 
never will give any reason, except a woman's reason, 
which, you know, is no reason at all, for any one 
thing she does. If I presume to hint things might be 
better after a different fashion, I can get no other an- 
swer than " that it is her way — that her grandmother 
and great-grandmother did so. before her ; and that it 
is her maxim never to alter the family management." 
I can scarcely stir about my house, it is so filled with 
heavy lumbering furniture, half of which is worm-eaten, 
and of no use but to harbour vermin ; but my wife 
cannot persuade herself to part with any of it, she has 



192 LETTER OF JOHN BULL. 

such a respect for a fine piece of antiquity : " and 
then," says she, " old furniture has such a creditable 
look !" " So it might, my dear," says I, "if it were 
all of a-piece ; but you know, we are continually buy- 
ing new ; and when one article does not suit with an- 
other, you must be sensible nothing can have a worse 
effect. For instance, now T ; this dismal old tapestry, 
how preposterous it looks along with the Indian mat- 
ting and painted rout-chairs ! I wish you would let it 
come down, it is fit for nothing but for the rats to play 
at hide-and-seek behind it." — "I would not have it 
down my dear," says she, " for the world ; it is the 
story of the Spanish Armada, and was done in the 
glorious days of Quetn Bess." " Then give it a 
thorough cleaning, at least," returned I. — " If you 
offer to draw a nail," rejoined she, " there are so 
many private doors and secret passages made in the 
wall, you will be blinded with dust and mortar ; and, 
for aught I know, pull an old house over your head." 
" Let me, at least, give a brushing to the beards of the 
old Dons," replied I. — " A stroke of the brush would 
shake them to pieces," insisted my wife ; " they are 
as tender as a cobweb, I tell you, and I positively will 
not have them meddled with. Nobody, who has any 
regard for his ancestors, would think of pulling down 
a venerable set of hangings, made in the glorious days 
of Queen Elizabeth." Now I care little when a thing 
was made ; the question is, what is it good for ? and 
I know nothing so much useless lumber is good for, 
but to oblige us to keep a great many supernumerary 
servants, at high wages, to look after it. 

I have still another grievance, sir. If you are a 
married man, you may chance to know, that it is often 
as much as a man can do to manage his wife ; but to 
manage one's wife and mother too, is a task too hard 
for apy mortal. Now, my mother, sir, lives with us, 



LETTER OF JOHN BULL. 193 

and I am sure I have always behaved myself as a 
dutiful and obedient son ; her arm-chair is always set 
in die best place by the fire ; she eats of the best, and 
drinks of the best ; neither do I grudge it her, though 
the poor children's bellies are often pinched, while she 
is feasting upon nice bits. But with all this, I have 
much ado to keep her in good humour. If I stir 
about a little more briskly than ordinary, my mother 
has weak nerves, and the noise I make over her head 
will throw her into fits. If I offer but to dust the books 
in my study, my mother is afraid some of them should 
fall upon her head : — indeed, the old lady did get an 
unlucky blow with one or two of them, which has 
shaken her not a little. Besides which, she insists, 
and my wife stands by her in it, that I should consult 
her in all matters of business ; and if I do not, I am 
cried out against as a graceless, atheistical wretch ; and 
a thousand idle reports are raised, that I am going to 
strip and turn my poor old mother out of doors. 
Then, my mother is rather particular in her dress ; 
and the children sometimes will be tittering and mak- 
ing game, when she is displaying some of her old 
fallals ; upon which my wife always insists I should 
whip them, which I used to do pretty severely, though 
of late, I confess, I have only hung the rod up over 
the chimney, in terrorem ; — on such occasions my 
wife never fails to observe, " how 7 becoming it is in 
one of my mother's age to keep the same fashion in 
her dress." This, by the way, is not true, for I 
remember my mother stuck all over with crosses and 
embroidery, to her very shoes, with strings of beads 
and such trumpery ; yet she says, as w 7 ell as my w T ife, 
that she never changes any thing. 

I am, myself, Mr. Editor, an easy, peaceable, plain- 
spoken man as any that exists ; and am a man of little 
or no expense for my own gratification : yet so it is, 

VOL. II. 17 



194 LETTER OF JOHN BULL. 

•that what with the large establishment of servants 
which we are obliged to keep, and the continual drains 
upon my purse to supply my extravagant neighbours, 
I run out every year, and cannot help having many 
serious thoughts and melancholy forebodings where all 
this may end. But I apprehend, the first step ought 
to be for my wife and I to consult together, and make 
a reform in the family management wherever there 
may be occasion. If therefore, you can persuade her 
to lay aside her groundless jealousies, and talk a little 
reason, I shall be highly obliged to you, and am your 
humble servant, 

John Bull. 



19 i 



LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 



SIR, 

I am a country gentleman, and enjoy an estate in 
Northamptonshire, which formerly enabled its posses- 
sors to assume some degree of consequence in the 
country ; but which, for several generations, has been 
growing less, only because it has not grown bigger. 
I mean, that though I have not yet been obliged to 
mortgage my land, or fell my timber, its relative value 
is every day diminishing by the prodigious influx of 
wealth, real and artificial, which for some time past 
has been pouring into this kingdom. Hitherto, how- 
ever, I have found my income equal to my wants. It 
has enabled me to inhabit a good house in town for 
four months of the year, and to reside amongst my ten- 
ants and neighbours for the remaining eight with credit 
and hospitality. I am indeed myself so fond of the 
country, and so averse in my nature to every thing of 
hurry and bustle, that, if I consulted only my own 
taste, I should never feel a wish to leave the shelter 
of my own oaks in the dreariest season of the year ; 
but I looked upon our annual visit to London as a 
proper compliance with the gayer disposition of my 
wife, and the natural curiosity of the younger part of 
the family : besides, to say the truth, it had its advan- 
tages in avoiding a round of dinners and card-parties, 
which we must otherwise have engaged in for the win- 
ter season, or have been branded with the appellation 
of unsociable. Our journey gave me an opportunity 
of furnishing my study with some new books and prints ; 



196 LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 

and my wife of gratifying her neighbours with some 
ornamental trifles, before their value was sunk by be- 
coming common, or of producing at her table or in 
her furniture some new-invented refinement of fashion- 
able elegance. Our hall was the first that was lighted 
by an Argand lamp ; and I still remember how we 
were gratified by the astonishment of our guests, when 
my wife, with an audible voice, called to the footman 
for the tongs to*help to the asparagus with. We found 
it pleasant too to be enabled to talk of capital artists 
and favourite actors ; and I made the better figure in 
my political debates from having heard the most pop- 
ular speakers in the House. 

Once too, to recruit my wife's spirits after a tedious 
confinement from a lying-in, w 7 e passed a season at 
Bath. In this manner, therefore, things w r ent on very 
well in the main, till of late my family have discovered 
that we lead a very dull kind of life ; and that it is 
impossible to exist with comfort, or indeed to enjoy a 
tolerable share of health, without spending good part of 
every summer at a Watering-place. I held out as 
long as I could. One may be allowed to resist the 
plans of dissipation, but the plea of health cannot 
decently be withstood. 

It was soon discovered that my eldest daughter 
wanted bracing, and my wife had a bilious complaint, 
against which our family physician declared that sea- 
bathing would be particularly serviceable. Therefore, 
though it was my own private opinion that my daugh- 
ter's nerves might have been as well braced by morn- 
ing rides upon the Northamptonshire hills as by even- 
ing dances in the public rooms, and that my wife's 
bile would have been greatly lessened by compliance 
with her husband, I acquiesced ; and preparations were 
made for our journey. These indeed were but slight, 
for the chief gratification proposed in this scheme was. 



LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 19? 

an entire freedom from care and form. We should 
find every thing requisite in our lodgings ; it was of no 
consequence whether the rooms we should occupy 
for a few months' in the summer were elegant or not ; 
the simplicity of a country life would be the more 
enjoyed by the little shifts we should be put to ; and 
all necessaries would be provided in our lodgings. It 
was not therefore till after we had taken them, that 
we discovered how far ready-furnished lodgings were 
from affording every article in the catalogue of neces- 
saries. We did not indeed give them a very scrupu- 
lous examination ; for the place was so full, that when 
we arrived, late at night, and tired with our journey, 
all the beds at the inn were taken up, and an easy- 
chair and a carpet were all the accommodations we 
could obtain for our repose. The next morning, there- 
fore, we eagerly engaged the first lodgings we found 
vacant, and have ever since been disputing about the 
terms, which from the hurry were not sufficiently as- 
certained ; and it is not even yet settled whether the 
little blue garret, which serves us as a powdering room, 
is ours of right or by favour. The want of all sorts 
of conveniences is a constant excuse for the want of 
all order and neatness, which is so visible in our apart- 
ment ; and we are continually lamenting that we are 
obliged to buy things of which we have such plenty 
at home. 

It is my misfortune that I can do nothing without 
all my little conveniences about me ; and in order to 
write a common letter I must have my study-table to 
lean my elbows on in sedentary luxury ; you will 
judge therefore how little I am able to employ my 
leisure, when I tell you, that the only room they have 
been able to allot for my use is so filled and crowded 
with my daughters' hat -boxes, bandboxes, wig-boxes, 
&c., that I can scarcely move about in it, and am at 
17* 



198 LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES, 

this moment writing upon a spare trunk for want of a 
table. I am therefore driven to saunter about with 
the rest of the party : but instead of the fine clumps 
of trees and waving fields of corn I. have been accus- 
tomed to have before my eyes, I see nothing but a 
naked beach, almost without a tree, exposed by turns 
to the cutting eastern blast and the glare of a July sun, 
and covered with a sand equally painful to the eyes 
and to the feet. The ocean is indeed an object of 
unspeakable grandeur ; but when it has been contem- 
plated in a storm and in a calm, when we have seen 
the sun rise out of its bosom and the moon silver its 
extended surface, its variety is exhausted, and the 
eye begins to require the softer and more interesting 
scenes of cultivated nature. My family have indeed 
been persuaded several times to enjoy the sea still 
more, by engaging in a little sailing-party ; but as, 
unfortunately, Northamptonshire has not afforded them 
any opportunity of becoming seasoned sailors, these 
parties of pleasure are always attended with the most 
dreadful sickness. This likewise I am told is very 
good for the constitution : it may be so for aught I 
know ; but I confess I am apt to imagine that taking 
an emetic at home would be equally salutary, and I 
am sure it would be more decent. Nor can I help 
imagining that my youngest daughter's lover has been 
less assiduous since he has contemplated her in the 
indelicate situation of a ship-cabin. I have endeav- 
oured to amuse myself with the company, but without 
much success ; it consists of a very few great people, 
who make a set by themselves, and think they are 
entitled, by the freedom of a watering-place, to in- 
dulge themselves in all manner of polissonneries ; and 
the rest is a motley group of sharpers, merchants' 
clerks, kept-mistresses, idle men, and nervous women. 
I have been accustomed to be nice in my choice of 



LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 199 

acquaintance, especially for my family ; but the great- 
er part of our connexions here are such as we should 
be ashamed to acknowledge anywhere else ; and the 
few we have seen above ourselves will equally disclaim 
us when we meet in town next winter. As to the 
settled inhabitants of the place, all who do not get by 
us view us with dislike, because we raise the price of 
provisions; and those who, do, — which, in one way or 
other, comprehends all the lower class, — have lost 
every trace of rural simplicity, and are versed in all 
arts of low cunning and chicane. The spirit of 
greediness and rapacity is nowhere so conspicuous as 
in lodging-houses. At our seat in the country, our 
domestic concerns went on as by clock-work ; a 
quarter of an hour in a week settled the bills, and few 
tradesmen wished, and none dared, to practise any 
imposition where all were known, and the consequence 
of their different behaviour must have been their being 
marked, for life, for encouragement or for distrust. 
But here the continual fluctuation of company takes 
away all regard to character ; the most respectable 
and ancient families have no influence any further than 
as they scatter their ready cash ; and neither gratitude 
nor respect are felt where there is no bond of mutual 
attachment besides the necessities of the present day. 
I should be happy if we had only to contend with this 
spirit during our present excursion, but the effect it 
has upon servants is most pernicious. Our family 
used to be remarkable for having its domestics grow 
grey in its service, but this expedition has already cor- 
rupted them ; two we have this evening parted with, 
and the rest have learned so much of the tricks of their 
station, that we shall be obliged to discharge them as 
soon as we return home. In the country I had been 
accustomed to do good to the poor : there are char- 
ities here too ; — we have joined in a subscription for 



200 LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 

a crazy poetess, a raffle for the support of a sharper, 
who passes under the title of a German count, and a 
benefit-play for a gentleman on board the hulks. 
Unfortunately, to balance these various expenses, this 
place, which happens to be a great resort of smugglers, 
affords daily opportunities of making bargains. We 
drink spoiled teas, under the idea of their being cheap ; 
and the little room we have is made less by the re- 
ception of cargoes of India taffetas, shawl-muslins, and 
real chintzes. All my authority here would be exert- 
ed in vain ; for (I do not know whether you know it 
or no) the buying of a bargain is a temptation which 
it is not in the nature of any woman to resist. I am 
in hopes, however, the business may receive some little 
check from an incident which happened a little time 
since ; an acquaintance of ours, returning from Mar- 
gate, had his carriage seized by the Custom-house 
officers, on account of a piece of silk which one of his 
female cousins, without his knowledge, had stowed in 
it ; and it was only released by its being proved that 
what she had bought with so much satisfaction as con- 
traband, was in reality the home-bred manufacture of 
Spitalfields. 

My family used to be remarkable for regularity in 
their attendance on public worship ; but that too here 
is numbered amongst the amusements of the place. 
Lady Huntingdon has a chapel, which sometimes at- 
tracts us ; and when nothing promises us any particular 
entertainment, a tea-drinking at the Rooms, or a con- 
cert of what is called sacred music, is sufficient to 
draw us from a church where no one will remark either 
our absence or our presence. Thus we daily become 
more lax in our conduct, for want of the salutary 
restraint imposed upon us by the consciousness of 
being looked up to as an example by others. 

In this manner, sir, has the season passed away. 



LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 201 

I spend a great deal of money, and make no figure ; 
I am in the country, and see nothing of country 
simplicity or country occupations ; I am in an obscure 
village, and yet cannot stir out without more observers 
than if I were walking in St. James's Park ; I am 
cooped up in less room than my own dog-kennel, 
while my spacious halls are injured by standing empty ; 
and I am paying for tasteless unripe fruit, while my 
own choice wall-fruit is rotting by bushels under the 
trees. — In recompense for all this, we have the sat- 
isfaction of knowing that we occupy the very rooms 

which my Lord had just quitted ; of picking up 

anecdotes, true or false, of people in high life ; and of 
seizing the ridicule of every character as they pass 
by us in the moving show-glass of the place, — a pas- 
time which often affords us a good deal of mirth, but 
which, I confess, I can never join in without reflecting 
that what is our amusement is theirs likewise. As to 
the great ostensible object of our excursion, — health ; 
I am afraid we cannot boast of much improvement. 
We have had a wet and cold summer ; and these 
houses, which are either old tenements vamped up, 
or new ones slightly run up for the accommodation 
of bathers during the season, have more contrivances 
for letting in the cooling breezes than for keeping them 
out, a circumstance which I should presume sagacious 
physicians do not always attend to, when they order 
patients from their own warm, compact, substantial 
houses, to take the air in country lodgings ; of which 
the best apartments, during the winter, have only been 
inhabited by the rats, and where the poverty of the 
landlord prevents him from laying out more in repairs 
than will serve to give them a showy and attractive 
appearance. Be that as it may ; the rooms we at 
present inhabit are so pervious to the breeze, that in 
spite of all the ingenious expedients of listing doors. 



_ 



202 LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES. 

pasting paper on the inside of cup-boards, laying sand- 
bags, puttying crevices, and condemning closet-doors ; 
it has given me a severe touch of my old rheumatism ; 
and all my family are in one way or other affected 
with it : my eldest daughter too has got cold with her 
bathing, though the sea-water never gives anv body 
cold ! 

In answer to these complaints, I am told by the 
good company here that I have stayed too long in the 
same air, and that now I ought to take a trip to the 
continent, and spend the winter at Nice, which would 
complete the business. I am entirely of their opinion, 
that it would complete the business, and have there- 
fore taken the liberty of laying my case before you ; 
and am, sir, 

Yours, &c. 

Henry Homelove, 



203 



ON EDUCATION. 



The other day I paid a visit to a gentleman with 
whom, though greatly rny superior in fortune, I have 
long been in habits of an easy intimacy. He rose in 
the world by honourable industry ; and married, 
rather late in life, a lady to whom he had been long 
attached, and in whom centered the wealth of several 
expiring families. Their earnest wish for children 
was not immediately gratified. At length they were 
made happy by a son, who, from the moment he was 
born, engrossed all their care and attention. — My 
friend received me in his library, where I found him 
busied in turning over books of education, of which 
he had collected all that were worthy notice, from 
Xenophon to Locke, and from Locke to Catherine 
Macauley. As he knows I have been engaged in the 
business of instruction, he did me the honour to con- 
sult me on the subject of his researches, hoping, he 
said, that, out of all the systems before him, we should 
be able to form a plan equally complete and compre- 
hensive ; it being the determination of both himself 
and his lady to choose the best that could be had, and 
to spare neither pains nor expense in making their 
child all that was great and good. I gave him my 
thoughts with the utmost freedom, and after I return- 
ed home, threw upon paper the observations which 
had occurred to me. 

The first thing to be considered, with respect to 
education, is the object of it. This appears to me to 
have been generally misunderstood. Education, in 



204 ON EDUCATION. 

its largest sense, is a thing of great scope and extent. 
It includes the whole process by which a human being 
is formed to be what he is, in habits, principles, and 
cultivation of every kind. But of this, a very small 
part is in the power even of the parent himself; a 
smaller still can be directed by purchased tuition of 
any kind. You engage for your child masters and 
tutors at large salaries ; and you do well, for they are 
competent to instruct him : they will give him the 
means, at least, of acquiring science and accomplish- 
ments ; but in the business of education, properly so 
called, they can do little for you. Do you ask, then, 
what will educate your son ? Your example will edu- 
cate him ; your conversation with your friends ; the 
business he sees you transact ; the likings and dislik- 
ings you express ; these will educate him ; — the so- 
ciety you live in will educate him ; — your domestics 
will educate him ; above all, your rank and situation 
in life, your house, your table, your pleasure-grounds, 
your hounds and your stables will educate him. It is 
not in your power to withdraw him from the continual 
influence of these things, except you were to with- 
draw yourself from them also. You speak of begin- 
ning the education of your son. The moment he 
was able to form an idea his education was already 
begun ; the education of circumstances — insensible 
education — which, like insensible perspiration, is of 
more constant and powerful effect, and of infinitely 
more consequence to the habit, than that which is di- 
rect and apparent. This education goes on at every 
instant of time ; it goes on like time ; you can neither 
stop it nor turn its course. What these have a ten- 
dency to make your child, that he will be. Maxims 
and documents are good precisely till they are tried, 
and no longer ; they will teach him to talk, and noth- 
ing more. The circumstances in which your son i- 



ON EDUCATION. 205 

placed will be even more prevalent than your exam- 
ple ; and you have no right to expect him to become 
what you yourself are, but by the same means. You, 
that have toiled during youth to set your son upon 
higher ground, and to enable him to begin where you 
left off, do not expect that son to be what you were, 
— diligent, modest, active, simple in his tastes, fertile 
in resources. You have put him under quite a dif- 
ferent master. Poverty educated you ; wealth will 
educate him. You cannot suppose the result will be 
the same. You must not even expect that he will be 
what you now are ; for though relaxed perhaps from 
the severity of your frugal habits, you still derive ad- 
vantage from having formed them ; and, in your 
heart, you like plain dinners, and early hours, and old 
friends, whenever your fortune will permit you to en- 
joy them. But it will not be so with your son : his 
tastes will be formed by your present situation, and in 
no degree by your former one. But I take great 
care, you will say. to counteract these tendencies, and 
to bring him up in hardy and simple manners ; I 
know their value, and am resolved that he shall ac- 
quire no other. Yes, you make him hardy ; that is 
to say, you take a country-house in a good air, and 
make him run, well clothed and carefully attended, 
for, it may be, an hour in a clear frosty winter's day 
upon your gravelled terrace ; or perhaps you take the 
puny shivering infant from his warm bed, and dip him 
in an icy ccld bath, — and you think you have done 
great matters. And so you have ; you have done all 
you can. But you were suffered to run abroad half 
the day on a bleak heath, in weather fit and unfit, 
wading barefoot through dirty ponds, sometimes losing 
your way benighted, scrambling over hedges, climb- 
ing trees, in perils every hour both of life and limb. 
Your life was of v^ry little consequence to any one ; 

VOL. II. 18 a 



206 ON EDUCATION. 

even your parents, encumbered with a numerous 
family, had little time to indulge the softnesses of af- 
fection, or the solicitude of anxiety ; and to every one 
else it was of no consequence at all. It is not possi- 
ble for you, it would not even be right for you, in 
your present situation, to pay no more attention to 
your child than was paid to you. In these mimic ex- 
periments of education, there is always something 
which distinguishes them from reality ; some weak 
part left unfortified, for the arrows of misfortune to 
find their way into. Achilles was a young nobleman, 
dios Achitteus, and therefore, though he had Chiron 
for his tutor, there was one foot left undipped. You 
may throw by Rousseau ; your parents practised 
without having read it ; you may read, but imperious 
circumstances forbid you the practice of it. 

You are sensible of the advantages of simplicity of 
diet ; and you make a point of restricting that of your 
child to the plainest food, for you are resolved that 
he shall not be nice. But this plain food is of the 
choicest quality, prepared by your own cook ; his 
fruit is ripened from your walls ; his cloth, his glasses, 
all the accompaniments of the table, are such as are 
only met with in families of opulence : the very ser- 
vants who attend him are neat, well dressed, and have 
a certain air of fashion. You may call this simplici- 
ty ; but I say he will be nice, — for it is a kind of sim- 
plicity which only wealth can attain to, and which 
will subject him to be disgusted at all common tables. 
Besides, he will from time to time partake of those 
delicacies which your table abounds with ; you your- 
self will give him of them occasionally ; you would be 
unkind if you did not : your servants, if good-natured, 
will do the same. Do you think you can keep the 
full stream of luxury running by his lips, and he not 
taste of it ? Vain imagination ! 



ON EDUCATION. 207 

1 would not be understood to inveigh against wealth, 
or against the enjoyments of it ; they are real enjoy- 
ments, and allied to many elegancies in manners and 
in taste ; — I only wish to prevent unprofitable pains 
and inconsistent expectations. 

You are sensible of the benefit of early rising ; and 
you may, if you please, make it a point that your 
daughter shall retire with her governess, and your son 
with his tutor, at the hour when you are preparing to 
see company. But their sleep, in the first place, will 
not be so sweet and undisturbed amidst the rattle of 
carriages, and the glare of tapers glancing through the 
rooms, as that of the village child in his quiet cottage, 
protected by silence and darkness ; and moreover, 
you may depend upon it, that, as the coercive power 
of education is laid aside, they will in a few months 
slide into the habitudes of the rest of the family, 
whose hours are determined by their company and 
situation in life. You have, however, done good, as 
far as it goes ; it is something gained, to defer perni- 
cious habits, if we cannot prevent them. 

There is nothing which has so little share in educa- 
tion as direct precept. To be convinced of this, we 
need only reflect that there is no one point we labour 
more to establish with children, than that of their 
speaking truth ; and there is not any in which we 
succeed worse. And why ? Because children readi- 
ly see we have an interest in it. Their speaking- 
truth is used by us as an engine of government — 
" Tell me, my dear child, when you have broken any 
thing, and I will not be angry with you." " Thank 
you for_nothing," says the child ; " if I prevent you 
from finding it out, I am sure you will not be angry :" 
and nine times out of ten he can prevent it. He 
knows that, in the common intercourses of life, you 
tell a thousand falsehoods. But these are necessary 
lies on important occasions. 



2.0S ON EDUCATION. 






Your child is the best judge how much occasion he 
has to tell a lie : he may have as great occasion for it. 
as you have to conceal a bad piece of news from a 
sick friend, or to hide your vexation from an unwel- 
come visitor. That authority which extends its claims 
over every action, and even every thought, which in- 
sists upon an answer to every interrogation, however 
indiscreet or oppressive to the feelings, will, in young 
or old, produce falehood ; or, if in some few instances 
the deeply imbibed fear of future and- unknown 
punishment should restrain from direct falsehood, it 
will produce a habit of dissimulation, which is still 
worse. The child, the slave, or the subject, who, on 
proper occasions, may not say, " I do not choose to 
tell," will certainly, by the circumstances in which you 
place him, be driven to have recourse to deceit, even 
should he not be countenanced by your example. 

I do not mean to assert, that sentiments inculcated 
in education have no influence ; — they have much, 
though not the most : but it is the sentiments we let 
drop occasionally, the conversation they overhear when 
playing unnoticed in a corner of the room, which has 
an effect upon children ; and not what is addressed 
directly to them in the tone of exhortation. If you 
would know precisely the effect these set discourses 
have upon vour child, be pleased to reflect upon that 
which a discourse from the pulpit, which you have 
reason to think merely professional, has upon you. 
Children have almost an intuitive discernment between 
the maxims you bring forward for their use, and those 
by which you direct your own conduct. Be as cun- 
ning as you will, they are always more cunning than 
you. Every child knows whom his father and mother 
love and see with pleasure, and whom they dislike ; 
for whom they think themselves obliged to set out 
their best plate and china ; whom they think it an 



ON EDUCATION. 209 

honour to visit, and upon whom they confer honour 
by admitting them to their company. " Respect 
nothing so much as virtue," says Eugenio to his son ; 
" virtue and talents are the only grounds of distinction." 
The child presently has occasion to inquire why his 
father pulls off his hat to some people and not to 
others ; he is told, that outward respect must be 
proportioned to different stations in life. This is a 
little difficult of comprehension : however, by dint of 
explanation, he gets over it tolerably well. But he 
sees his father's house in the bustle and hurry of pre- 
paration ; common business laid aside, every body in 
movement, an unusual anxiety to please and to shine. 
Nobody is at leisure to receive his caresses or attend 
to his questions ; his lessons are interrupted, his hours 
deranged. At length a guest arrives : it is my Lord 

, whom he has heard you speak of twenty times 

as one of the most worthless characters upon earth. 
Your child, Eugenio, has received a lesson of educa- 
tion. Resume, if you will, your systems of morality 
on the morrow, you will in vain attempt to eradicate 
it. " You expect company, mamma, must I be dress- 
ed today ?" " No, it is only good Mrs. Such-a-one." 
Your child has received a lesson of education, one 
which he well understands, and will long remember. 
You have sent your child to a public school ; but to 
secure his morals against the vice which you too justly 
apprehend abounds there, you have given him a private 
tutor, a man of strict morals and religion. He may 
help him to prepare his tasks ; but do you imagine it 
will be in his power to form his mind ? His school- 
fellows, the allowance you give him, the manners of 
the age and of the place, will do that ; and not the 
lectures which he is obliged to hear. If these are dif- 
ferent from what you yourself experienced, you must 
not be surprised to see him gradually recede from the 
18* 



210 ON EDUCATION. 

principles, civil and religious, which you hold, and 
break off from your connexions, and adopt manners 
different from your own. This is remarkably ex- 
emplified amongst those of the Dissenters who have 
risen to wealth and consequence. 1 believe it would 
be difficult to find an instance of families, who for 
three generations have kept their carriage and con- 
tinued Dissenters. 

Education, it is often observed, is an expensive 
thing. It is so ; but the paying for lessons is the 
smallest part of the cost. If you would go to the 
price of having your son a worthy man, you must be 
so yourself ; your friends, your servants, your company 
must be all of that stamp. Suppose this to be the 
case, much is done : but there will remain circumstances, 
which perhaps you cannot alter, that will still have 
their effect. Do you wish him to love simplicity r 
Would you be content to lay down your coach, to 
drop your title ? Where is the parent who would do 
this to educate his son ? You carry him to the work- 
shops of artisans, and show him different machines 
and fabrics, to awaken his ingenuity. The necessity 
of getting his bread would awaken it much more 
effectually. The single circumstance of having a 
fortune to get, or a fortune to spend, will probably 
operate more strongly upon his mind, not only than 
your precepts, but even than your example. You 
wish your child to be modest and unassuming ; you 
are so, perhaps, yourself, — and you pay liberally a 
preceptor for giving him lessons of humility. You do 
not perceive, that the very circumstance of having a 
man of letters and accomplishments retained about 
his person, for his sole advantage, tends more forcibly 
to inspire him with an idea of self-consequence, than 
all the lessons he can give him to repress it. " Why 
do not you look sad, you rascal ? " says the under- 



ON EDUCATION. 211 

taker to his man in the play of The Funeral ; " I 
give you I know not how much money for looking sad, 
and the more I give you, the gladder I think you are." 
So will it be with the wealthy heir. The lectures 
that are given him on condescension and affability, 
only prove to him upon how much higher ground he 
stands than those about him ; and the very pains that 
are taken with his moral character will make him 
proud, by showing him how much he is the object of 
attention. You cannot help these things. Your ser- 
vants, out of respect to you, will bear with his pet- 
ulance ; your company, out of respect to you, will 
forbear to check his impatience ; and you yourself, if 
he is clever, will repeat his observations. 

In the exploded doctrine of sympathies, you are 
directed, if you have cut your finger, to let that alone, 
and put your plaster upon the knife. This is very 
bad doctrine, I must confess, in philosophy ; but very 
good in morals. Is a man luxurious, self-indulgent ? 
do not apply your physic of the soul to him, but cure 
his fortune. Is he haughty ? cure his rank, his title. 
Is he vulgar ? cure his company. Is he diffident or 
mean-spirited? cure his poverty, give him conse- 
quence — but these prescriptions go far beyond the 
family recipes of education. 

What then is the result ? In the first place, that we 
should contract our ideas of education, and expect no 
more from it than it is able to perform. It can give in- 
struction. There will always be an essential difference 
between a human being cultivated and uncultivated. 
Education can provide proper instructors in the va- 
rious arts and sciences, and portion out to the best ad- 
vantage those precious hours of youth which never will 
return. It can likewise give, in a great degree, per- 
sonal habits ; and even if these should afterwards give 
way under the influence of contrary circumstances. 



>12 ON EDUCATION. 

your child will feel the good effects of them ; for the 
later and the less will he go into what is wrong. Let 
us also be assured, that the business of education, 
properly so called, is not transferable. You may en- 
gage masters to instruct your child in this or the other 
accomplishment, but you must educate him yourself. 
You not only ought to do it, but you must do it, 
whether you intend it or no. As education is a thing 
necessary for all ; for the poor and for the rich, for 
the illiterate as well as for the learned ; Providence 
has not made it dependent upon systems uncertain, 
operose, and difficult of investigation. It is not neces- 
sary, with Rousseau or Madame de Genlis, to devote 
to the education of one child the talents and the time 
of a number of grown men : to surround him with an 
artificial world ; and to counteract, by maxims, the 
natural tendencies of the situation he is placed in in 
society. Every one has time to educate his child : 
the poor man educates him while working in his 
cottage— the man of business while employed in his 
counting-house. 

Do we see a father who is diligent in his profession, 
domestic in his habits, whose house is the resort of 
well-informed, intelligent people — a mother whose 
time is usefully filled, whose attention to her duties 
secures esteem, and whose amiable manners attract 
affection ? Do not be solicitous, respectable couple, 
about the moral education of your offspring ! do not 
be uneasy because you cannot surround them with the 
apparatus of books and systems ; or fancy your must 
retire from the world to devote yourselves to their 
improvement. In your world they are brought up 
much better than they could be under any plan of 
factitious education which you could provide for them : 
they will imbibe affection from your caresses ; taste 
from your conversation ; urbanity from the commerce 



ON EDUCATION. 213 

of your society; and mutual love from your example. 
Do not regret that you are not rich enough to provide 
tutors and governors, to watch his steps with sedulous 
and servile anxiety, and furnish him with maxims it is 
morally impossible he should act upon when grown up. 
Do not you see how seldom this over culture produces 
its effect, and how many shining and excellent char- 
acters start up every day, from the bosom of obscurity, 
with scarcely any care at -all? 

Are children then to be neglected ? Surely not : 
but having given them the instruction and accomplish- 
ments which their situation in life -requires, let us reject 
superfluous solicitude, and trust that their characters 
will form themselves from the spontaneous influence 
of good examples, and circumstances which impel 
them to useful action. 

But the education of your house, important as it is, 
is only a part of a more comprehensive system. 
Providence takes your child where you leave him. 
Providence continues his education upon a larger 
scale, and by a process which includes means far 
more efficacious. Has your son entered the world at 
eighteen, opinionated, haughty, rash, inclined to dissi- 
pation ? Do not despair ; he may yet be cured of 
these faults, if it pleases Heaven. There are reme- 
dies which you coufd not persuade yourself to use, if 
they were in your power, and which are specific in 
cases of this kind. How often do we see the pre- 
sumptuous, giddy youth, changed into the wise coun- 
sellor, the considerate, steady friend ! How often the 
thoughtless, gay girl, into the sober wife, the affec- 
tionate mother ! Faded beauty, humbled self-conse- 
quence, disappointed ambition, loss of fortune, — this 
is the rough physic provided by Providence to melio- 
rate the temper, to correct the offensive petulancies of 
youth, and bring out all the energies of the finished 



214 ON EDUCATION 

character. Afflictions soften the proud ; difficulties 
push forward the ingenious ; successful industry gives 
consequence and credit, and developes a thousand 
latent good qualities. There is no malady of the 
mind so inveterate, which this education of events is 
not calculated to cure, if life were long enough ; and 
shall we not hope, that He, in whose hand are all the 
remedial processes of nature, will renew the discipline 
in another state, and finish the imperfect man ? 

States are educated as individuals — by circumstan- 
ces : the prophet may cry aloud, and spare not ; the 
philosopher may descant on morals ; eloquence may 
exhaust itself in invective against the vices of the age : 
these vices will certainly follow certain states of pov- 
erty or riches, ignorance or high civilization. But 
what these gentle alteratives fail of doing, may be ac- 
complished by an unsuccessful war, a loss of trade, or 
any of those great calamities by which it pleases 
Providence to speak to a nation in such language as 
ivill be heard. If, as a nation, we would be cured of 
pride, it must be by mortification ; if of luxury, by a 
national bankruptcy, perhaps ; if of injustice, or the 
spirit of domination, by a loss of national consequence. 
In comparison of these strong remedies, a fast, or a 
sermon, are prescriptions of very little efficacy, 



215 



ON PREJUDICE. 



It is to speculative people, fond of novel doctrines, 
and who, by accustoming themselves to make the 
most fundamental truths the subject of discussion, 
have divested their minds of that reverence which is 
generally felt for opinions and practices of long stand- 
ing, that the world is ever to look for its improvement 
or reformation. But it is also these speculatists who 
introduce into it absurdities and errors, more gross 
than any which have been established by that common 
consent of numerous individuals, which opinions long 
acted upon must have required for their basis. For 
systems of the latter class must at least possess one 
property, — that of being practicable ; and there is 
likewise a presumption that they are, or at least origi- 
nally were, useful ; w T hereas the opinions of the specu- 
latist may turn out to be utterly incongruous and ec- 
centric. The speculatist may invent machines which 
it is impossible to put in action, or which, when put 
in action, may possess the tremendous power of tear- 
ing up society by the roots. Like the chemist, he is 
not sure in the moment of projection whether he shall 
blow up his own dwelling and that of his neighbour, 
or whether he shall be rewarded with a discovery 
which will secure the health and prolong the exist- 
ence of future generations. It becomes us, there- 
fore, to examine with peculiar care those maxims 
which, under the appearance of following a closer 
train of reasoning, militate against the usual practices 
or genuine feelings of mankind. No subject has been 



216 ON PREJUDICE. 

more canvassed than education. With regard to that 
important object there is a maxim avowed by many- 
sensible people, which seems to me to deserve par- 
ticular investigation. a Give your child," it is said, 
" no prejudices : let reason be the only foundation of 
his opinions ; where he cannot reason, let him sus- 
pend his belief. Let your great care be, that as he 
grows up he has nothing to unlearn ; and never make 
use of authority in matters of opinion, for authority is 
no test of truth." The maxim sounds weD, and flat-. 
ters perhaps the secret pride of man, in supposing him 
more the creature of reason than he really is ; but, I 
suspect, on examination we shall find it exceedingly 
fallacious. We must first consider what a prejudice 
is. A prejudice is a sentiment in favour or disfavour 
of any person, practice, or opinion, previous to and 
independent of examining their merits by reason and 
investigation. Prejudice is prejudging ; that is, judg- 
ing previously to evidence. It is therefore sufficient- 
ly apparent, that no philosophical belief can be found- 
ed on mere prejudice ; because it is the business of 
philosophy to go deep into the nature and properties 
of things : nor can it be allowable for those to indulge 
prejudice who aspire to lead the public opinion ; those 
to whom the high office is appointed of sifting truth 
from error, of canvassing the claims of different sys- 
tems, of exploding old and introducing new tenets. 
These must investigate; with a kind of audacious bold- 
ness, every subject that comes before them ; these, 
neither impressed with awe for all that mankind have 
been taught to reverence, nor swayed by affection for 
whatever the sympathies.of our nature incline us to 
love, must hold the balance with a severe and steady 
hand, while they are weighing the doubtful scale of 
probabilities ; and with a stoical apathy of mind, yield 
their assent to nothing but a preponderancy of evi- 



ON PREJUDICE. 217 

dence. But is this an office for a child ? Is it an 
office for more than one or two men in a century ? 
And is it desirable that a child should grow up with- 
out opinions to regulate his conduct, till he is able to 
form them fairly by the exercise of his own abilities ? 
Such an exercise requires at least the sober period of 
matured reason : reason not only sharpened by argu- 
mentative discussion, but informed by experience. 
The most sprightly child can only possess the former ; 
for let it be remembered, that though the reasoning 
powers put forth pretty early in life, the faculty of 
using them to effect does not come till much later. 
The first efforts of a child in reasoning resemble those 
quick and desultory motions by which he gains the 
play of his limbs ; they show agility and grace, they 
are pleasing to look at, and necessary for the gradual 
acquirement of his bodily powers ; but his joints must 
be knit into more firmness, and his movements reg- 
ulated with more precision, before he is capable of 
useful labour and manly exertion. A reasoning child 
is not yet a reasonable being. There is great pro- 
priety in the legal phraseology which expresses matu- 
rity, not by having arrived at the possession of reason, 
but of that power, the late result of information, thought, 
and experience — discretion, which alone teaches, with 
regard to reason, its powers, its limits, and its use. 
This the child of the most sprightly parts cannot have ; 
and therefore his attempts at reasoning, whatever 
acuteness they may show, and how much soever they 
may please a parent with the early promise of future 
excellence, are of no account whatever in die sober 
search after truth. Besides, taking it for granted 
(which however is utterly impossible) that a youth 
could be brought up to the age of fifteen or sixteen 
without prejudice in favour of any opinions whatever, 
and that he is then set to examining for himself some 

VOL. II. 19 



218 ON PREJUDICE. 

important proposition, — how is he to set about it? 
Who is to recommend books to him ? Who is to 
give him the previous information necessary to com- 
prehend the question ? Who is to tell him whether 
or no it is important ? Whoever does these, will in- 
fallibly lay a bias upon his mind according to the ideas 
he himself has received upon the subject. Let us 
suppose the point in debate was the preference be- 
tween the Roman catholic and protestant modes of 
religion. Can a youth in a protestant country, born 
of protestant parents, with access, probably, to hardly 
a single controversial book on the Roman catholic 
side of the question, — can such a one study the subject 
without prejudice ? His knowledge of history, if he 
has such knowledge, must, according to the books he 
has read, have already given him a prejudice on the 
one side or the other ; so must the occasional con- 
versation he has been witness to, the appellations he 
has heard used, the tone of voice with which he has 
heard the words monk or priest pronounced, and a 
thousand other evanescent circumstances. It is like- 
wise to be observed, that every question of any weight 
and importance has numerous dependencies and points 
of connexion with other subjects, which make it im- 
possible to enter upon the consideration of it without 
a great variety of previous knowledge. There is no 
object of investigation perfectly insulated ; — we must 
not conceive therefore of a man's sitting down to it 
with a mind perfectly new and untutored : he must 
have passed more or less through a course of studies ; 
and, according to the colour of those studies, his mind 
will have received a tincture, — that is, a prejudice. — 
But it is, in truth, the most absurd of all suppositions, 
that a human being can be educated, or even nourish- 
ed and brought up, without imbibing numberless pre- 
judices from every thing which passes around him. 



ON PREJUDICE. 219 

\ child cannot learn the signification of words without 
receiving ideas along with them ; he cannot be impres- 
sed with affection to his parents and those about him, 
without conceiving a predilection for their tastes, 
opinions, and practices. He forms numberless as- 
sociations of pain or pleasure, and every association 
begets a prejudice ; he sees objects from a particular 
spot, and his views of things are contracted or extend- 
ed according to his position in society : as no two in- 
dividuals can have the same horizon, so neither can 
any two have the same associations ; and different 
associations will produce different opinions, as neces- 
sarily as, by the laws of perspective, different distances 
will produce different appearances of visible objects. 
Let us confess a truth, humiliating perhaps to human 
pride ; — a very small part only of the opinions of the 
coolest philosopher are the result of fair reasoning ; 
the rest are formed by his education, his temperament, 
by the age in which he lives, by trains of thought 
directed to a particular track through some accidental 
association — in short, by prejudice. But why, after 
all, should we wish to bring up children without pre- 
judices? A child has occasion to act, long before he 
can reason. Shall we leave him destitute of all the 
principles that should regulate his conduct, till he can 
discover them by the strength of own genius ? If it 
were possible that one whole generation could be 
brought up without prejudices, the world must return 
to the infancy of knowledge, and all the beautiful fabric 
which has been built up by successive generations, 
must be begun again from the very foundation. Your 
child has a claim to the advantage of your experience, 
which it would be cruel and unjust to deprive him of. 
Will any father say to his son, " My dear child, you 
are entering upon a world full of intricate and perplexed 
paths, in which many miss their way, to their final 



220 ON PREJUDICE. 

misery and ruin. Amidst many false systems, and 
much vain science, there is also some true knowledge ; 
there is a right path : I believe I know it, for I have 
the advantage of years and experience, but I will in- 
still no prejudices into your mind ; I shall therefore 
leave you to find it out as you can 5 whether your 
abilities are great or small, you must take the chance 
of them. There are various systems in morals ; I 
have examined and found some of a good, others 
of a bad tendency. There is such a thing as religion \ 
many people think it the most important concern of 
life : perhaps I am one of them : perhaps I have 
chosen from amidst the various systems of belief, — 
many of which are extremely absurd, and some even 
pernicious, that which I cherish as the guide of my 
life, my comfort in all my sorrows, and the foundation 
of my dearest hopes : but far be it from me to in- 
fluence you in any manner to receive it ; when you 
are grown up, you must read all the books upon these 
subjects which you can lay your hands on, for neither 
in the choice of these would I presume to prejudice 
your mind : converse with all who pretend to any 
opinions upon the subject ; and whatever happens to 
be the result, you must abide by it. In the mean 
time, concerning these important objects you must 
keep your mind in a perfect equilibrium. It is true 
you want these principles more now than you can do 
at any other period of your life ; but I had rather you 
never had them at all, than that you should not come 
fairly by them." Should we commend the wisdom 
or the kindness of such a parent ? The parent will 
perhaps plead in his behalf, that it is by no means his 
intention to leave the mind of his child in the uncul- 
tivated state I have supposed. As soon as his under- 
standing begins to open, he means to discuss with him 
those propositions on which he wishes him to form an 



ON PREJUDICE. 221 

opinion. He will make him read the best books on 
the subject, and by free conversation and explaining 
the arguments on both sides, he does not doubt but 
the youth will soon be enabled to judge satisfactorily 
for himself. I have no objection to make against this 
mode of proceding : as a mode of instruction, it is 
certainly a very good one : but he must know little of 
human nature, who thinks that after this process the 
youth will be really in acapacity of judging for him- 
self, or that he is less under the dominion of prejudice 
than if he had received the same truths from the mere 
authority of his parent ; for most assuredly the argu- 
ments on either side will not have been set before 
him with equal strength or with equal warmth. The 
persuasive tone, the glowing language, the triumphant 
retort, will all be reserved for the side on which the 
parent has formed his own conclusions. It cannot be 
otherwise ; he cannot be convinced himself of what 
he thinks a truth, without wishing to convey that con- 
viction, nor without thinking all that can be urged on 
the other side, weak and futile. He cannot in a mat- 
ter of importance neutralize his feelings : perfect 
impartiality can be the result only of indifference. 
He does not perhaps seem to dictate, but he wishes 
gently to guide his pupil ; and that wish is seldom 
disappointed. The child adopts the opinion of his 
parent, and seems to himself to have adopted it from 
the decisions of his own judgment ; but all these 
reasonings must be gone over again, and these opinions 
undergo a fiery ordeal, if ever he comes really to think 
and determine for himself. 

The fact is, that no man, whatever his system may 
be, refrains from instilling prejudices into his child in 
any matter he has much at heart. Take a disciple 
of Rousseau, who contends that it would be very per- 
nicious to give his son any ideas of a Deity till he is 
19* 



222 ON PREJUDICE. 

of an age to read Clarke or Leibnitz, and ask him if 
he waits so long to impress on his mind the sentiments 
of patriotism — the civic affection. O no ! you will 
find his little heart is early taught to beat at the very 
name of liberty, and that, long before he is capable of 
forming a single political idea, he has entered with 
warmth into all the party sentiments and connexions 
of his parent. He learns to love and hate, to venerate 
or despise, by rote ; and he soon acquires decided 
opinions, of the real ground of which he can know 
absolutely nothing. Are not ideas of female honour 
and decorum imprest first as prejudices ; and would 
any parent wish they should be so much as canvassed 
till the most settled habits of propriety have rendered 
it safe to do it ? In teaching first by prejudice that 
which is afterwards to be proved, we do but follow 
Nature. Instincts are prejudices she gives us : we 
follow them implicitly, and they lead us right ; but it 
is not till long afterwards that reason comes and justi- 
fies them. Why should we scruple to lead a child to 
right opinions in the same way by which Nature leads 
him to right practices ! 

Still it will be urged that man is a rational being, 
and therefore reason is the only true ground of belief, 
and authority is not reason. This point requires a 
little discussion. That he who receives a truth upon 
authority has not a reasonable belief, is in one sense 
true, since he has not drawn it from the result of his own 
inquiries ; but in another it is certainly false, since the 
authority itself may be to him the best of all reasons 
for believing it. There are few men who, from the 
exercise of the best powers of their minds, could derive 
so good a reason for believing a mathematical truth, 
as the authority of Sir Isaac Newton. There are two 
principles deeply implanted in the mind of man, with- 
out which he could never attain knowledge, — curiosity. 



ON PREJUDICE. 223 

and credulity ; the former to lead him to make dis- 
coveries himself, the latter to dispose him to receive 
knowledge from others. The credulity of a child to 
those who cherish him, is in early life unbounded. 
This is one of the most useful instincts he has, and is 
in fact a precious advantage put into the hands of the 
parent for storing his mind with ideas of all kinds. 
Without this principle of assent he could never gain 
even the rudiments of knowledge. He receives it, it 
is true, in the shape of prejudice ; but the prejudice 
itself is founded upon sound reasoning, and conclusive 
though imperfect experiment. He finds himself weak, 
helpless, and ignorant ; he sees in his parent a being 
of knowledge and powers more than his utmost capac- 
ity can fathom ; almost a god to him. He has often 
done him good, therefore he believes he loves him ; 
he finds him capable of giving him information upon all 
the subjects he has applied to him about ; his knowl- 
edge seems unbounded, and his information has led him 
right whenever he has had occasion to try it by actual 
experiment : the child does not draw out his little 
reasonings into a logical form, but this is to him a 
ground of belief, that his parent knows every thing, 
and is infallible. Though the proposition is not exact- 
ly true, it is sufficiently so for him to act upon : and 
when he believes in his parent with implicit faith, he 
believes upon grounds as truly rational as when, in 
after life, he follows the deductions of his own reason. 
But you will say, I wish my son may have nothing 
to unlearn, and therefore I would have him wait to 
form an opinion till he is able to do it on solid grounds. 
And why do you suppose he will have less to unlearn 
if he follows his own reason, than if he followed yours ? 
If he thinks, if he inquires, he will no doubt have a 
great deal to unlearn, whichever course you take with 
him ; but it is better to have some things to unlearn, 
than to have nothing learnt. Do you hold your own 



224 ON PREJUDICE. 

opinions so loosely, so hesitatingly, as not to think 
them safer to abide by, than the first results of his 
stammering reason ? Are there no truths to learn so 
indubitable as to be without fear of their not approving 
themselves to his mature and well-directed judgment ? 
Are there none you esteem so useful, as to feel anxious 
that he be put in possession of them ? We are so- 
licitous not only to put our children in a capacity of 
acquiring their daily bread, but to bequeath to them 
riches which they may receive as an inheritance. 
Have you no mental wealth you wish to transmit, no 
stock of ideas he may begin with, instead of drawing 
them all from the labour of his own brain ? If, more- 
over, your son should not adopt your prejudices, he 
will certainly adopt those of other people ; or, if on 
subjects of high interest he could be kept totally in- 
different, the consequence would be, that he would 
conceive either that such matters were not worth the 
trouble of inquiry, or that nothing satisfactory was to 
be learnt about them : for there are negative prejudices 
as well as positive. 

Let parents, therefore, not scruple to use the power 
God and Nature have put into their hands for the 
advantage of their offspring. Let them not fear to 
impress them with prejudices for whatever is fair and 
honourable in action — whatever is useful and impor- 
tant in systematic truth. Let such prejudices be 
wrought into the very texture of the soul. Such truths 
let them appear to know by intuition. Let the child 
never remember the period when he did not know them. 
Instead of sending him to that cold and hesitating be- 
lief which is founded on the painful and uncertain 
consequences of late investigation, let his conviction 
of all the truths you deem important, be mixed up with 
every warm affection of his nature, and identified with 
his most cherished recollections — the time will come 
soon enough when his confidence in you will have re- 



ON PREJUDICE. 225 

ceived a check. The growth of his own reason and 
the developement of his powers will lead him with a 
sudden impetus to examine every thing, to canvass 
every thing, to suspect every thing. If he finds, as 
he certainly will find, the results of his reasoning dif- 
ferent in some respects from those you have given 
him, far from being now disposed to receive your as- 
sertions as proofs, he will rather feel disinclined to 
any opinion you profess, and struggle to free himself 
from the net you have woven about him. 

The calm repose of his mind is broken, the placid 
lake is become turbid, and reflects distorted and 
broken images of things ; but be not you alarmed at 
the new workings of his thoughts, — it is the angel of 
reason which descends and troubles the waters. To 
endeavour to influence by authority, would be as use- 
less now as it was salutary before. Lie by in silence, 
and wait the result. Do not expect the mind of your 
son is to resemble yours, as your figure is reflected 
by the image in the glass ; he was formed, like you, 
to use his own judgement, and he claims the high 
privilege of his nature. His reason is mature, his 
mind must now form itself. Happy must you esteem 
yourself, if amidst all lesser differences of opinion, and 
the wreck of many of your favourite ideas, he still 
preserves those radical and primary truths which are 
essential to his happiness, and which different trains of 
thought and opposite modes of investigation will very 
often equally lead to. 

Let it be well remembered that we have only been 
recommending those prejudices which go before rea- 
son, not those which are contrary to it. To endea- 
vour to make children, or others over whom we have 
influence, receive systems which we do not : believe, 
merely because it is convenient to ourselves that they 
should believe them, though a very fashionable prac- 
tice, makes no part of the discipline we plead for- 



226 ON PREJUDICE. 

These are not prejudices, but impositions. We may 
also grant that nothing should be received as a preju- 
dice which can be easily made the subject of experi- 
ment. A child may be allowed to find out for him- 
self that boiling water will scald his fingers, and mus- 
tard bite his tongue ; but he must be prejudiced 
against ratsbane, because the experiment would be 
too costly. In like manner it may do him good to 
have experienced that little instances of inattention or 
perverseness draw upon him the displeasure of his' 
parent ; but that profligacy is attended with loss of 
character, is a truth one would rather wish him to 
take upon trust. 

There is no occasion to inculcate by prejudices 
those truths which it is of no importance for us to 
know, till our powers are able to investigate them. 
Thus the metaphysical questions of space and time, 
necessity and free-will, and a thousand others, may 
safely be left for that age which delights in such dis- 
cussions. They have no connexion with conduct ; 
and none have any business with them at all, but those 
who are able by such studies to exercise and sharpen 
their mental powers : but it is not so with those truths 
on which our well-being depends ; these must be 
taught to all, not only before they can reason upon 
them, but independently of the consideration whether 
they will ever be able to reason upon them as long as 
they live. What has hitherto been said, relates only 
to instilling prejudices into others ; how far a man is 
to allow them in himself, or, as a celebrated writer 
expresses it, to cherish them, is a different question, on 
which perhaps I may some time offer my thoughts.* 
In the mean time I cannot help concluding, that to 
reject the influence of prejudice in education is itself 
one of the most unreasonable of prejudices. 

Mt is to be regretted that Mrs. Barbauld never fulfilled the inten- 
tion here intimated. — Editor. 



227 



DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 



Clio. — There is no help for it, — they must go. 
The river Lethe is here at hand ; I shall tear them 
off and throw them into the stream. 

Mercury. — Illustrious daughter of Mnemosyne. 
Clio ! the most respected of the Muses, — you seem 
disturbed. What is it that brings us the honour of a 
visit from you in these infernal regions ? 

Clio. — You are a god of expedients, Mercury ; I 
want to consult you. I am oppressed with the con- 
tinually increasing demands upon me : I have had 
more business for these last twenty years than I have 
often had for two centuries ; and if I had, as old Ho- 
mer says, " a throat of brass and adamantine lungs," 
I could never get through it. And what did he want 
this throat of brass for ? for a paltry list of ships, 
canoes rather, which would be laughed at in the Ad- 
miralty Office of London. But I must inform you, 
Mercury, that my roll is so full, and I have so many 
applications which cannot in decency be refused, that 
I see no other way than striking off some hundreds of 
names in order to make room ; and I am come to in- 
form the shades of my determination. 

Mercury. — I beiieve, Clio, you will do right : and 
as one end of your roll is a little mouldy, no doubt 
you will begin with that ; but the ghosts will raise a 
a great clamour. 

Clio. — I expect no less ; but necessity has no law. 



S28 DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 

All the parchment in Pergamus is used up, — my roll 
is long enough to reach from earth to heaven ; it is 
grown quite cumbrous ; it takes a life, as mortals 
reckon lives, to unroll it. 

Mercury. — Yet consider, Clio, how many of these 
have passed a restless life, and encountered all man- 
ner of dangers, and bled and died only to be placed 
upon your list, — and now to be struck off! 

Clio. — And committed all manner of crimes, you 
might have added ; — but go they must. Besides, 
they have been sufficiently recompensed. Have they 
not been praised, and sung, and admired for some 
thousands of years ? Let them give place to others : 
What ! have they no conscience ? no modesty ? 
Would Xerxes, think you, have reason to complain, 
when his parading expeditions have already procured 
him above two thousand years of fame, though a 
Solyman or a Zingis Khan should fill up his place ? 

Mercury. — Surely you are not going to blot out 
Xerxes from your list of names ? 

Clio. — I do not say that I am : but that I keep 
him is more for the sake of his antagonists than his 
own. And yet their places might be well supplied 
by the Swiss heroes of Morgarten, or the brave 
though unsuccessful patriot, Aloys Reding. — But pray 
what noise is that at the gate ? 

Mercury. — A number of the shades who have re- 
ceived an intimation of your* purpose, and are come 
to remonstrate against it. 

Clio. — In the name of all the gods whom have we 
here ?— Hercules, Theseus, Jason, CEdipus, Bacchus, 
Cadmus with a bag of dragon's teeth, and a whole 
tribe of strange shadowy figures ! I shall expect to 
see the Centaurs and Lapithae, or Perseus on his fly- 
ing courser. Away with them ; they belong to my 
sisters, not to me \ Melpomene will receive them 
gladly. 



DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 229 

Mercury. — You forget, Clio, that Bacchus con- 
quered India. 

Clio. — And had horns like Moses, as Vossius is 
pleased to say. No, Mercury, I will have nothing to 
do with these ; if ever I received them, it was when 
I was young and credulous.-^-As I have said, let my 
sisters take them ; or let them be celebrated in tales 
for children. 

Mercury. — That will not do, Clio ; children in this 
age read none but wise books' : stories of giants and 
dragons are all written for grown-up children now. 

Clio. — Be that as it may, I shall clear my hands 
of them, and of a great many more, I do - assure you. 

Mercury. — I hope " the tale of Troy divine — !" 

Clio. — Divine let it be, but my share in it is very 
small ; I recollect furnishing the catalogue. — Mercury, 
I will tell you the truth. When I was young, my 
mother (as arrant a gossip as ever breathed) related 
to me a great number of stories : and as in those days 
people could not read or write, I had no better au- 
thority for what I recorded : but after letters were 
found out, and now since the noble invention of print- 
ing, — why do you think, Mercury, any one would 
dare to tell lies in print ? 

Mercury. — Sometimes perhaps. I have seen a 
splendid victory in the gazette of one country dwindle 
into an honourable retreat in that of another. 

Clio. — In newspapers, very possibly : but with re- 
gard to myself, when I have time to consider and lay 
things together, I assure you, you may depend upon 
me. — Whom have we in that group which I see in- 
distinctly in a sort of twilight ? 

Mercury. — Very renowned personages ; Ninus, 
Sesostris, Semiramis, Cheops who built the largest 
pyramid. 

roL. ii. 20 



230 DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 

Clio, — If Cheops built the largest pyramid, people 
are welcome to inquire about him at the spot, — room 
must be made. As to Semiramis, tell her her place 
shall be filled up by an empress and a conqueror from 
the shores of the wintry Baltic. 

Mercury. — The renowned Cyrus is approaching 
with a look of confidence, for he is introduced by a 
favourite of yours, the elegant Xenophon. 

Clio. — Is that Cyrus ? Pray desire him to take off 
that dress which Xenophon has given him ; truly I 
took him for a Greek philosopher. I fancy queen 
Tomyris would scarcely recognise him. 

Mercury. — Aspasia hopes, for the honour of her 
-sex, that she shall continue to occupy a place among 
those you celebrate. 

Clio. — Tell the mistress of Pericles we can spare 
her without inconvenience : many ladies are to be 
found in modern times who possess her eloquence 
and her talents, with the modesty of a vestal ; and 
should a more perfect likeness be required, modern 
times may furnish that also. 

Mercury, — Here are two figures who approach 
you with a very dignified air. 

Solon and Lycurgus. — We present ourselves, di- 
vine Clio, with confidence. We have no fear that 
you should strike from your roll the lawgivers of 
Athens and Sparta. 

Clio. — Most assuredly not. Yet I must inform 
you that a name higher than either of yours : and a 
constitution more perfect, is to be found in a vast con- 
tinent, of the very existence of which you had not the 
least suspicion. 

Mercury. — I see approaching a person of a noble 
and spirited air, if he did not hold his head a little on 
one side as if his neck were awry. 



DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 231 

Alexander. — Clio, I need not introduce myself; I 
am, as you well know, the son of Jupiter Amnion, 
and my arms have reached even to the remote shore 
of the Indus. 

Clio. — Pray burn your genealogy ; and for the 
rest, suffer me to inform you that the river Indus and 
the whole peninsula which you scarcely discovered, 
with sixty millions of inabitants, is at this moment sub- 
ject to the dominion of a few merchants in a remote 
island of the Northern Ocean, the very name of which 
never reached your ears. 

Mercury. — Here is Empedocles, who threw him- 
self into iEtna merely to be placed upon your roll ; 
and Calanus, who mounted his funeral pile before 
Alexander, from the same motive. 

Clio. — They have been remembered long enough 
in all reason : their places may be supplied by the 
two next madmen who shall throw themselves under 
the wheels of the chariot of Jaggernaut, — fanatics are 
the growth of every age. 

Mercury. — Here is a ghost preparing to address 
you with a very self-sufficient air : his robe is em- 
broidered with flower-de-luces. 

Louis XIJ^. — I am persuaded, Clio, you will re- 
cognise the immortal man. I have always been a 
friend and patron of the Muses ; my actions are well 
known ; all Europe has resounded with my name, — 
the terror of other countries, the glory of my own : I 
am well assured you are not going to strike me off. 

Clio.— To strike you off? certainly not; but to 
place you many degrees lower in the list ; to reduce 
you from a sun, your favorite emblem, to a star in the 
galaxy. My sisters have certainly been partial to 
you : you bought their favour with— how many livres 
a year ? not much more than a London bookseller 
will give for a quarto poem. But me you cannot 
bribe. 



232 DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 

Louis. — But, Clio, you have yourself recorded my 
exploits ; — the passage of the Rhine, Namur, Flan- 
ders, Franche Comte. 

Clio. — O Louis, if you could but guess the extent 
of the present French empire ; — but no, it could never 
enter into your imagination. 

Louis. — I rejoice at what you say ; I rejoice that 
my posterity have followed my steps, and improved 
upon my glory. 

Clio. — Your posterity have had nothing to do with 
it. 

Louis.— Remember too the urbanity of my charac- 
ter, how hospitably I received the unfortunate James 
of England, — England, the natural enemy of France. 

Clio. — Your hospitality has been well returned. 
Your descendants, driven from their thrones, are at 
this moment supported by the bounty of the nation 
and king of England. 

Louis. — O Clio, what is it that you tell me ! let 
me hide my diminished head in the deepest umbrage 
of the grove ; let me seek out my dear Maintenon, 
and tell my beads with her till I forget that I have 
been either praised or feared. 

Clio. — Comfort yourself, however ; your name, 
like the red letter which marks the holiday, though 
insignificant in itself, shall still enjoy the honour of 
designating the age of taste and literature. 

Mercury. — Here is a whole crowd coming, Clio, I 
can scarcely keep them off with my wand : they have 
all got notice of your intentions, and the infernal re- 
gions are quite in an uproar, — what is to be done ? 

Clio. — I cannot tell ; the numbers distract me : to 
examine their pretensions one by one is impossible ; I 
must strike off half of them at a venture : the rest 
must make room, — they must crowd, they must fall 
into the back-ground ; and where I used to write a 



DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 233 

name all in capitals with letters of gold illuminated, I 
must put it in small pica, 1 do assure you, Mercury, 
I cannot stand the fatigue I undergo, much longer. I 
am not provided, as you very well know, with either 
chariot or wings, and I am expected to be in all parts 
of the globe at once. In the good old times my busi- 
ness lay almost entirely between the Hellespont and 
the Pillars of Hercules, -with sometimes an excursion 
to the mouths (then seven) of the Nile, or the banks 
of the Euphrates. But now I am required to be in a 
hundred places at once ; I am called from Jena to 
Austerlitz, from Cape Trafalgar to Aboukir, and from 
the Thames to the Ganges and Burampooter ; be- 
sides a whole continent, a world by itself, fresh and 
vigorous, which I foresee will find me abundance of 
employment. 

Mercury. — Truly I believe so ; I am afraid the old 
leaven is working in the new world. 

Clio. — I am puzzled at this moment how to give 
the account, which always is expected of me, of the 
august sovereigns of Europe. 

Mercury. — How so ? 

Clio. — I do not know where to find them ; they 
are most of them upon their travels. 

Mercury. — lou must have been very much em- 
ployed in the French revolution. 

Clio. — Continually ; the actors in the scene suc- 
ceeded one another with such rapidity, that the hero 
of today was forgotten on the morrow. Necker, Mi- 
rabeau, Dumourier, La Fayette, appeared successive- 
ly likely pictures in a magic lanthern — shown for a 
moment and then withdrawn : and now the space is 
filled by one tremendous gigantic figure, that throws 
his broad shadow over half the globe. 

Mercury. — The ambition of Napoleon has indeed 
procured you much employment. 
20* 



234 DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 

Clio. — Employment ! There is not a goddess so 
harassed as I am ; my sisters lead quite idle lives in 
comparison. Melpomene has in a manner slept 
through the last hall-century, except when now and 
then she dictated to a certain favourite nymph. Ura- 
nia, indeed, has employed herself with Herschel in 
counting the stars ; but her task is less than mine. 
Here am I expected to calculate how many hundred 
thousands of rational beings cut one another's throats 
at Austerlitz, and to take the tale of two hundred and 
thirteen thousand human bodies and ninety-five thou- 
sand horses, that lie stiff, frozen and unburied on the 
banks of the Berecina ; — and do you think, Mercury, 
this can be a pleasant employment ? 

Mercury. — I have had a great increase of employ- 
ment myself lately, on account of the multitude of 
shades I have been obliged to convey ; and poor old 
Charon is almost laid up with the rheumatism : we 
used to have a holiday comparatively during the win- 
ter months ; but of late, winter and summer I have 
observed are much alike to heroes. 

Clio. — I wish to Jupiter I could resign my office ! 
Son of Maia, I declare to you I am sick of the hor- 
rors I record ; I am sick of mankind. For above 
these three thousand years have I been warning them 
and reading lessons to them, and they will not mend : 
Robespiere was as cruel as Sylla, and Napoleon has 
no more moderation than Pyrrhus. The human 
frame, of curious texture, delicately formed, feeling, 
and irritable by the least annoyance, with face erect 
and animated with Promethean fire, they wound, they 
lacerate, they mutilate with most perverted ingenuity. 
I will go and record the actions of the tigers of Afri- 
ca ; in them such fierceness is natural — Nay, the hu- 
man race will be exterminated, if this work of destruc- 
tion goes on much longer. 



DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES. 235 

Mercury, — With regard to that matter, Clio, I can 
set your heart at rest. A great philosopher has late- 
ly discovered that the world is in imminent danger of 
being over-peopled, and that if twenty or forty thou- 
sand men could not be persuaded every now and then 
to stand and be shot at, we should be forced to eat one 
another. This discovery has had a wonderful effect 
in quieting tender consciences. The calculation is 
very simple, any schoolboy will explain it to you. 

Clio. — O what a number of fertile plains and green 
savannahs, and tracts covered with trees of beautiful 
foliage, have never yet been pressed by human foot- 
steps ! My friend Swift's project of eating children 
was not so cruel as these bloody and lavish sacrifices 
to Mars, the most savage of all the gods. 

Mercury. — You forget yourself, Clio ; Mars is not 
worshipped now in Christian Europe. 

Clio. — By Jupiter but he is ! Have I not seen the 
bloody and torn banners, with martial music and mili- 
tary procession, brought into the temple, — and whose 
temple, thinkest thou ? and to whom have thanks 
been given on both sides, amidst smoking towns and 
wasted fields, after the destruction of man and devas- 
tation of the fair face of nature ! — And Mercury, god 
of wealth and frauds, you have your temple too, 
though your name is not inscribed there. 

Mercury. — I am afraid men will always love 
wealth. 

Clio. — O if I had to record only such pure names 
as a Washington or a Howard ! 

Mercury. — It would be very gratifying, certainly ; 
but then, Clio, you would have very little to do, and 
might almost as well burn your roll. 



236 



KNOWLEDGE AND HER DAUGHTER : 

A FABLE. 



Knowledge, the daughter of Jupiter, descended 
from the skies to visit man. She found him naked 
and helpless, living on the spontaneous fruits of the 
earth, and little superior to the ox that grazed beside 
him. She clothed and fed him ; she built him pala- 
ces ; she showed him the hidden riches of the earth, 
and pointed with her finger the course of the stars as 
they rose and set in the horizon. Man became rich 
with her gifts, and accomplished from her conversa- 
tion. In process of time Knowledge became acquaint- 
ed with the schools of the philosophers ; and being 
much taken with their theories and their conversation, 
she married one of them. They had many beautiful 
and healthy children ; but among the rest was a 
daughter of a different complexion from all the rest, 
whose name was Doubt. She grew up under many 
disadvantages ; she had a great hesitation in her 
speech ; a cast in her eye, which, however, was keen 
and piercing ; and was subject to nervous tremblings. 
Her mother saw her with dislike : but her father, 
who was of the sect of the Pyrrhonists, cherished and 
taught her logic, in which she made a great progress. 
The Muse of History was much troubled with her in- 
trusions : she would tear out whole leaves, and blot 
over many pages of her favourite works. With the 
divines her depredations were still worse : she was 
forbidden to enter a church ; notwithstanding which. 



KNOWLEDGE AND HER DAUGHTER. 237 

she would slip in under the surplice, and spend her 
time in making mouths at the priest. If she got at a 
library, she destroyed or blotted over the most valua- 
ble manuscripts. A most undutiful child ; she was 
never better pleased than when she could unexpect- 
edly trip up her mother's heels, or expose a rent or 
an unseemly patch in her flowing and ample garment. 
With mathematicians she never meddled ; but in all 
other systems of knowledge she intruded herself, and 
her breath diffused a mist over the page which often 
left it scarcely legible. Her mother at length said to 
her, " Thou art my child, and I know it is decreed 
that w T hile I tread this earth thou must accompany my 
footsteps ; but thou art mortal, I am immortal ; and 
there will come a time when I shall be freed from 
thy intrusion, and shall pursue my glorious track from 
star to star, and from system to system, without im- 
pediment and without check." 



OCCASIONAL TRACTS. 



ADDRESS 

TO THE 

OPPOSERS OF THE REPEAL 

OF THE 

CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS: 
1790. 



Gentlemen, 

Had the question of yesterday been decided in a 
manner more favourable to our wishes, which how- 
ever the previous intimations of your temper in the 
business left us little room to expect, we should have 
addressed our thanks to you on the occasion. As it 
is, we address to you our thanks for much casual 
light thrown upon the subject, and for many incidental 
testimonies of your esteem (whether voluntary or in- 
voluntary we will not stop to examine) which in the 
course of this discussion you have favoured us with. 
We thank you for the compliment paid the dissenters, 
when you suppose that the moment they are eligible 
to places of power and profit, all such places will at 
once be filled with them. Not content with confound- 
ing, by an artful sophism, the right of eligibility with 
the right to offices, you again confound that right with 
the probable fact, and then argue accordingly. Is 
the Test Act, your boasted bulwark, of equal neces- 
sity with the dykes in Holland ; and do we wait, like 
an impetuous sea, to rush in and overwhelm the land ? 

TOL. II. 21 



242 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

Our pretensions, gentlemen, are far humbler. We 
had not the presumption to imagine that, inconsidera- 
ble as we are in numbers, compared to the established 
church ; inferior too in fortune and influence ; labour- 
ing, as we do, under the frown of the court, and the 
anathema of the orthodox ; we should make our way 
so readily into the secret recesses of royal favour ; 
and of a sudden, like the frogs of Egypt, swarm 
about your barns, and under your canopies, and in' 
your kneeding troughs, and in the chamber of the 
king. We rather wished this act as the removal of a 
stigma than the possession of a certain advantage, and 
we might have been cheaply pleased with the ac- 
knowledgement of the right, though we had never 
been fortunate enough to enjoy the emolument. 

Another compliment for which we offer our ac- 
knowledgments, may be extracted from the great fer- 
ment which has been raised by this business all over 
the country. What stir and movement has it occa- 
sioned among the different orders of men ! How 
quick the alarm has been taken, and sounded from 
the church to the senate, and from the press to the 
people ; while fears and forebodings were communi- 
cated like an electric shock ! The old cry of " The 
church is in danger " has again been made to vibrate 
in our ears. Here too, if we gave way to impressions 
of vanity, we might suppose ourselves of much greater 
importance in the political scale than our numbers and 
situation seem to indicate. It shows, at least, we are 
feared, which to some minds would be the next grate- 
ful thing to being beloved. We, indeed, should only 
wish for the latter ; nor should w T e have ventured to 
suppose, but from the information you have given us, 
that your Church was so weak. What ! fenced and 
guarded as she is with her exclusive privileges and 
rich emoluments, stately with her learned halls and 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. ;>43 

endowed colleges, with all the attraction of her wealth, 
and the thunder of her censures ; all that the orator 
calls " the majesty of the church ? ' about her, — and 
does she, resting in security under the broad buckler 
of the state, does she tremble at the naked and un- 
armed sectary f him, whose early connexions and 
phrase uncouth, and unpopular opinions, set him at dis- 
tance from the means oi advancement ; him, who in 
the intercourses of neighbourhood and common life, 
like new settlers, finds it necessary to clear the ground 
before him, and is ever obliged to root up a prejudice 
before he can plant affection ? He is not of the 
world, gentlemen ; and the world loveth her own. All 
that distinguishes him from other men to common ob- 
servation, operates in his disfavour. His very advo- 
cates, while they plead his cause, are ready to blush 
for their client ; and in justice to their own character, 
think it necessary to disclaim all knowledge of his 
obscure tenets. And is it from his hand you expect 
the demolition of so massy an edifice ? Does the 
simple removal of the Test Act involve its destruc- 
tion ? These were not our thoughts. We had too 
much reverence for your establishment to imagine 
that the structure was so loosely put together, or so 
much shaken by years, as that the removal of so slight 
a pin should endanger the whole fabrick — or is the 
Test Act the talisman which holds it together, that, 
when it is broken, the whole must fall to pieces like 
the magic palace of an enchanter ? Surely no spe- 
cies of regular architecture can depend upon so slight 
a support. — After all what is it we have asked ? — to 
share in the rich benefices of the established church ? 
to have the gates of her schools and universities 
thrown open to us ? No : let her keep her golden 
prebends, her scarfs, her lawn, her mitres. Let 
her dignitaries be still associated to the honours of 



244 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

legislation ; and in our courts of executive justice, let 
her inquisitorial tribunals continue to thwart the spirit 
of a free constitution by a heterogeneous mixture of 
priestly jurisdiction. Let her still gather into barns, 
though she neither sows nor reaps. We desire not to 
share in her good things. We know it is the child- 
ren's bread, which must not be given to dogs. But 
having these good things, we could wish to hear her 
say with the generous spirit of Esau, " I have 
enough, my brother." We could wish to be consid- 
ered as children of the state, though we are not so 
of the church. She must excuse us if we look upon 
the alliance between her and the state as an ill-assorted 
union, and herself as a mother-in-law, who, with the 
too frequent arts of that relation, is ever endeavouring 
to prejudice the state, the common father of us all. 
against a part of his offspring, for the sake of appro- 
priating a larger portion to her own children. We 
claim no share in the dowry of her who is not our 
mother, but we may be pardoned for thinking it hard 
to be deprived of the inheritance of our father. 

But it is objected to us that we have sinned in the 
manner of making our request, we have brought it 
forward as a claim instead of asking it as a favour. 
We should have sued, and crept, and humbled our- 
selves. Our preachers and our writers should not 
have dared to express the warm glow of honest senti- 
ment, or even in a foreign country glance at the 
downfall of a haughty aristocracy. As we were sup- 
pliants, we should have behaved like suppliants, and 

then perhaps No, gentlemen, we wish to have it 

understood that we do claim it as a right. It loses 
otherwise half its value. We claim it as men, we 
claim it as citizens, we claim it as good subjects. We 
are not conscious of having brought the disqualifica- 
tion upon ourselves by a failure in any of these char- 
acters. 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 245 

But we already enjoy a complete toleration — It is 
time, so near the end of the eighteenth century, it is 
surely time to speak with precision, and to call things 
by their proper names. What you call toleration, 
we call the exercise of a natural and inalienable 
right. We do not conceive it to be toleration, first 
to strip a man of all his dearest rights, and then to 
give him back a part ; or even if it were the whole. 
You tolerate us in worshipping God according to 
our consciences — and why not tolerate a man in the 
use of his limbs, in the disposal of his private pro- 
perty, the contracting his domestic engagements, or 
any other the most acknowledged privileges of hu- 
manity ? It is not to these things that the word tolera- 
ation is applied with propriety. It is applied, w r here 
from lenity or prudence we forbear doing all which in 
justice we might do. It is the bearing with w T hat is 
confessedly an evil, for the sake of some good with 
w r hich it is connected. It is the christian virtue of 
long-suffering ; it is the political virtue of adapting 
measures to times and seasons and situations. Abuses 
are tolerated, when they are so interwoven with 
the texture of the piece, that the operation of remov- 
ing them becomes too delicate and hazardous. Un- 
just claims are tolerated, when they are complied with 
for the sake of peace and conscience. The failings 
and imperfections of those characters in which there 
appears an evident preponderancy of virtue, are toler- 
ated. These are the proper objects of toleration, 
these exercise the patience of the christian and the pru- 
dence of the statesman ; but if there be a power that 
advances pretensions which we think unfounded in 
reason or scripture, that exercises an empire within 
an empire, and claims submission from those naturally 
her equals ; and if we, from a spirit of brotherly 
charity, and just deference to public opinion, and a 
21* 



246 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

salutary dread of innovation, acquiesce in these pre- 
tensions ; let her at least be told that the virtue of for- 
bearance should be transferred, and that it is we who 
tolerate her, and not she who tolerates us. 

But this, it is again imputed to us, is no contest for 
religious liberty, but a contest for power, and place, 
and influence. We want civil offices — And why 
should citizens not aspire to civil offices? Why 
should not the fair field o r generous competition be 
freely opened to every one ? A contention for power 
— It is not a contention for power between churchmen 
and dissenters, nor is it as dissenters we wish to enter 
the lists ; we wish to bury every name of distinction 
in the common appellation of citizen. We wish not 
the name of dissenter to be pronounced, except in our 
theological researches and religious assemblies. It is 
you, who by considering us as aliens, make us so. It 
is you who force us to make our dissent a prominent 
feature in our character. It is you who give relief, 
and cause to come out upon the canvass, what we 
modestly wished to have shaded over, and thrown into 
the back-ground. If we are a party, remember it is 
you who force us to be so. We should have sought 
places of trust — by no unfair, unconstitutional meth- 
ods should we have sought them, but in the open 
and honourable rivalship of virtuous emulation ; by 
trying to deserve w T ell of our king and our country. 
Our attachment to both is well known. 

Perhaps, however, we have all this w T hile mistaken 
the matter, and what we have taken for bigotry and a 
narrow-minded spirit is after all only an affair of cal- 
culation and arithmetic. Our fellow subjects remem- 
ber the homely proverb, " the fewer the better cheer," 
and, very naturally, are glad to see the number of 
candidates lessened for the advantages they are them- 
selves striving after. If so, we ask their excuse, their 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 247 

conduct is quite simple ; and if, from the number of 
concurrents, government were to strike out all above 
or under five feet high, or all whose birthdays happen- 
ed before the summer solstice, or, by any other mode 
of distinction equally arbitrary and whimsical, were 
to reduce the number of their rivals, they would be 
equally pleased, and equally unwilling to admit an al- 
teration. We are a mercantile people, accustomed to 
consider chances, and we can easily perceive that in 
the lottery of life, if a certain proportion are by some 
means or other excluded from a prize, the adventure 
is exactly so much the better for the remainder. If 
this indeed be the case, as I suspect it may, we have 
been accusing you wrongfully. Your conduct is 
founded upon principles as sure and unvarying as 
mathematical truths ; and all further discussion is need- 
less. We drop the argument at once. Men have now 
and then been reasoned out of their prejudices, but it 
were a hopeless attempt to reason them out of their 
interest. 

We likewise beg leave to apologize to those of the 
clergy whom we have unwillingly offended by endeav- 
ouring to include them as parties in our cause. 
" Pricked to it by foolish honesty and love," we 
thought that what appeared so grievous to us, could 
not be very pleasant to them : but we are convinced 
of our mistake, and sorry for our officiousness. We 
own it, sirs, it was a fond imagination that because we 
should have felt uneasy under the obligation imposed 
upon you, it should have the same effect upon your- 
selves. It was weak to impute to you an idle delicacy 
of conscience, which perhaps can only be preserved 
at a distance from the splendid scenes which you 
have continually in prospect. But you will pardon 
us. We did not consider the force of early discipline 
over the mind. We are not accustomed to those sal- 



248 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

vos, and glosses, and accommodating modes of rea- 
soning with which you have been long familiarized. 
You have the happy art of making easy to yourselves 
greater things than this. You are regularly disciplin- 
ed troops, and understand every nice manoeuvre and 
dexterous evolution which the nature of the ground 
may require. We are like an unbroken horse ; hard- 
mouthed, and apt to start at shadows, Our conduct 
towards you in this particular, we acknowledge may 
fairly provoke a smile at our simplicity. Besides, 
upon reflection, what should you startle at ? The 
mixture of secular and religious concerns cannot to 
you appear extraordinary ; and in truth nothing is 
more reasonable than that, as the state has been 
drawn in to the aggrandizement of your church, your 
church should in return make itself subservient to the 
convenience of the state. If we are wise, we shall 
never again make ourselves uneasy about your share 
of the grievance. 

But we were enumerating our obligations to you, 
gentlemen, who have thwarted our request ; and we 
must take the liberty to inform you that if it be any 
object of our ambition to exist and attract notice as a 
separate body, you have done us the greatest service 
in the world. What we desired, by blending us with 
the common mass of citizens, would have sunk our 
relative importance, and consigned our discussions to 
oblivion. You have refused us ; and by so doing, 
you keep us under the eye of the public, in the in- 
teresting point of view, of men who suffer under a 
deprivation of their rights. You have set a mark of 
separation upon us, and it is not in our power to take 
it off; but it is in our power to determine whether it 
shall be a disgraceful stigma or an honourable distinc- 
tion. If, by the continued peaceableness of our de- 
meanour, and the superior sobriety of our conversa- 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 249 

lion, — a sobriety for which we have not yet quite 
ceased to be distinguished ; if, by our attention to 
literature, and that ardent love of liberty which you 
are pretty ready to allow us, we deserve esteem, we 
shall enjoy it. If our rising seminaries should excel 
in wholesome discipline and regularity, if they should 
be schools of morality,, and yours, unhappily should 
be corrupted into schools of immorality, you will en- 
trust us with the education of your youth, when the 
parent, trembling at the profligacy of the times, wishes 
to preserve the blooming and ingenuous child from 
the degrading taint of early licentiousness. If our 
writers are solid, elegant, or nervous, you will read 
our books and imbibe our sentiments, and even 
your preachers will not disdain, occasionally, to illus- 
trate our morality. If we enlighten the world by 
philosophical discoveries, you will pay the involuntary 
homage due to genius, and boast of our names when, 
amongst foreign societies, you are inclined to do cre- 
dit to your country. If your restraints operate to- 
wards keeping us in that middle rank of life where 
industry and virtue most abound, we shall have the 
honour to count ourselves among that class of the 
community which has ever been the source of manners, 
of population, and of wealth. If we seek for fortune 
in that track which you have left most open to us, we 
shall increase your commercial importance. If, in 
short, we render ourselves worthy of respect, you cannot 
hinder us from being respected — you cannot help re- 
specting us — and in spite of all names of opprobrious 
separation, we shall be bound together by mutual es- 
teem and the mutual reciprocation of good offices. 

One good office we shall most probably do you is 
rather an inviduous one, and seldom meets with 
thanks. By laying us under such a marked disquali- 
fication, you have rendered us — we hope not uncan- 



250 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

did — we hope not disaffected — May the God of love 
and charity preserve us from all such acrimonious 
dispositions ! But you certainly have, as far as in you 
lies, rendered us quick-sighted to encroachment and 
abuses of all kinds. We have the feelings of men ; 
and though we should be very blameable to suffer 
ourselves to be biassed by any private hardships, and 
hope that, as a body, we never shall, yet this you will 
consider, that we have at least no bias on the other 
side. We have no favours to blind us, no golden 
padlock on our tongues, and therefore it is probable 
enough, that, if cause is given, we shall cry aloud 
and spare not. But in this you have done yourselves 
no disservice. It is perfectly agreeable to the jealous 
spirit of a free constitution, that there should be some 
who will season the mass with the wholesome spirit of 
opposition. Without a little of that bitter leaven, there 
is great danger of its being corrupted. 

With regard to ourselves, you have by your late 
determination given perhaps a salutary, perhaps a 
seasonable check to that spirit of worldliness, which of 
late has gained but too much ground amongst us. 
Before you — before the world — we have a right to 
bear the brow erect, to talk of rights and services ; 
but there is a place and a presence where it will be- 
come us to make no boast. We, as well as you, are 
infected. We, as well as you, have breathed in the 
universal contagion : a contagion more noxious, and 
more difficult to escape, than that which on the plains 
of Cherson has just swept from the world the martyr 
of humanity. The contagion of selfish indifference 
and fashionable manners has seized us ; and our lan- 
guishing virtue feels the debilitating influence. If you 
were more conversant in our assemblies than your 
prejudices will permit you to be, you would see in- 
difference, where you fancy there is an over propov- 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 251 

tion of zeal : you would see principles giving way, 
and families melting into the bosom of the church 
under the warm influence of prosperity. You would 
see that establishments, without calling coercive meas- 
ures to their aid, possess attraction enough severely 
to try the virtue and steadiness of those who separate 
from them. You need not strew thorns, or put bars 
across our path ; your golden apples are sufficient to 
make us turn out of the way. Believe me, gentle- 
men, you do not know us sufficiently to aim your 
censure where we should be most vulnerable. 

Nor need you apprehend from us the slightest dan- 
ger to your own establishment. If you will needs 
have it that it is in danger, we wish you to be aware 
that the danger arises from among yourselves. If 
ever your creeds and formularies become as grievous 
to the generality of your clergy as they already are to 
many delicate and thinking minds amongst them ; if 
ever any material articles of your professed belief 
should be generally disbelieved, or that order which 
has been accustomed to supply faithful pastors and 
learned inquirers after truth, should become a burden 
upon a generous public, the cry for reformation would 
then be loud and prevailing. It would be heard. 
Doctrines which will not stand the test of argument 
and reason, will not always be believed ; and when 
they have ceased to be generally believed, they will 
not long be articles of belief. If, therefore, there is 
any weak place in your system, any thing which you 
are obliged to gloss over and touch with a tender hand, 
any thing which shrinks at investigation — look ye to it, 
its extinction is not far off. Doubts and difficulties, 
that arise first amongst the learned, will not stop there ; 
they inevitably spread downwards from class to class : 
and if the people should ever find that your articles 
are generally subscribed as articles of peace, they will 



252 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

be apt to remember that they are articles of expense 
too. If all the dissenters in the kingdom, still believ- 
ing as dissenters do, were this moment, in order to 
avoid the reproach of schism, to enter the pale of your 
church, they would do you mischief; they would 
hasten its decline : and if all who in their hearts 
dissent from your professions of faith, were to cease 
making them, and throw themselves amongst the dis- 
senters, you would stand the firmer for it. Your 
church is in no danger because we are of a different 
church ; they might stand together to the end of time 
without interference : but it will be in great danger 
whenever it has within itself many who have thrown 
aside its doctrines, or even, who do not embrace them 
in the simple and obvious sense. All the power and 
policy of man cannot continue a system long after its 
truth has ceased to be acknowledged, or an establish- 
ment long after it has ceased to contribute to utility. 
It is equally vain as to expect to preserve a tree whose 
roots are cut away. It may look as green and flour- 
ishing as before for a short time ; but its sentence is 
passed its principle of life is gone, and death is already 
within it. If then you think the church in danger, be 
not backward to preserve the sound part by sacrificing 
the decayed. 

To return to ourselves and our feelings on the 
business lately in agitation — You will excuse us if we 
do not appear with the air of men baffled and disap- 
pointed. Neither do we blush at our defeat ; — we 
may blush, indeed, but it is for our country : but we 
lay hold on the consoling persuasion, that reason, truth 
and liberality must finally prevail. We appeal from 
Philip intoxicated to Philip sober. We know you 
will refuse us while you arc narrow-minded, but you 
will not always be narrow-minded. You have too 
much light and candour not 10 have more. We will 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 253 

no more attempt to pluck the green unripe fruit. We 
see in you our future friends and brethren, eager to 
confound and blend with ours your interests and your 
affections. You will grant us all we ask. The o*ily 
question between us is, whether you will do it today ; 
tomorrow you certainly will. You will even entreat 
us, if need were, to allow, you to remove from your 
country the stigma of illiberality. We appeal to the 
certain, sure operation of increasing light and knowl- 
edge, which it is no more in your power to stop, than 
to repel the tide with your naked hand, or to wither 
with your breath the genial influence of vegetation. 
The spread of that light is, in general, gradual and 
imperceptible ; but there are periods when its progress 
is accelerated, when it seems with a sudden flash to 
open the firmament, and pour in day at once. Can 
ye not discern the signs of the times ? The minds of 
men are in movement from the Borysthenes to the 
Atlantic. Agitated with new and strong emotions, 
they swell and heave beneath oppression, as the seas 
within the polar circle, when at the approach of spring, 
they grow impatient to burst their icy chains ; when 
what, but an instant before, seemed so firm, — spread 
for many a dreary league like a floor of solid marble, 
at once with a tremendous noise gives way, long fis- 
sures spread in every direction, and the air resounds 
with the clash of floating fragments, which every hour 
are broken from the mass. The genius of Philosophy 
is walking abroad, and with the touch of Ithuriel's 
spear is trying the establishments of the earth. The 
various forms of Prejudice, Superstition, and Servility 
start up in their true shapes, which had long imposed 
upon the world under the revered semblances of 
Honour, Faith, and Loyalty. Whatever is loose must 
be shaken, whatever is corrupted must be lopt away ; 
whatever is not built on the broad basis of public utility 
vol. ii. 22 



254 ON THE REPEAL OF THE 

must be thrown to the ground. Obscure murmurs 
gather, and swell into a tempest ; the spirit of Inquiry, 
like a severe and searching wind, penetrates every 
part of the great body politic ; and whatever is un- 
sound, whatever is infirm, shrinks at the visitation. 
Liberty, here with the lifted crosier in her hand, and 
the crucifix conspicuous on her breast ; there, led by 
Philosophy, and crowned with the civic wreath, an- 
imates men to assert their long-forgotten rights. With- 
a policy, far more liberal and comprehensive than the 
boasted establishments of Greece and Rome, she 
diffuses her blessings to every class of men ; and even 
extends a smile of hope and promise to the poor 
African, the victim of hard, impenetrable avarice. 
Man, as man, becomes an object of respect. Tenets 
are transferred from theory to practice. The glowing 
sentiment and the lofty speculation no longer serve 
" but to adorn the pages of a book ;" they are brought 
home to men's business and bosoms ; and, what some 
centuries ago it w r as daring but to think, and danger- 
ous to express, is now realized and carried into effect. 
Systems are analysed into their first principles, and 
principles are fairly pursued to their legitimate con- 
sequences. The enemies of reformation, who palliate 
what they cannot defend, and defer what they dare 
not refuse ; who, with Fesius, put off to a more con- 
venient season what, only because it is the present 
season, is inconvenient, stand aghast, and find they have 
no power to put back the important hour, when nature 
is labouring with the birth of great events. Can ye 
not discern — But you do discern these signs; you 
discern them well and youv alarm is apparent. You 
see a mighty empire breaking from bondage, and 
exerting the energies of recovered freedom : and 
England — which was used to glory in being the as- 
sertor of liberty and refuge of the oppressed — England, 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 



255 



who with generous and respectful sympathy, in times 
not far remote from our own memory, afforded an 
asylum to so many of the subjects of that very empire, 
when crushed beneath the iron rod of persecution ; 
and, by so doing, circulated a livelier abhorrence of 
tyranny within her own veins- — England, who has 
long reproached her with being a slave, now censures 
her for daring to be free* England, who has held the 
torch to her, is mortified to see it blaze brighter in her 
hands. England, for whom, and for whose manners 
and habits of thinking, that empire has, for some time 
past, felt even an enthusiastic predilection ; and to 
whom, as a model of laws and goverment, she looks 
up with affectionate reverence — England, nursed at 
the breast of liberty, and breathing the purest spirit of 
enlightened philosophy, views a sister nation with 
affected scorn and real jealousy, and presumes to ask 
whether she yet exists : — Yes, all of her exists that is 
worthy to do so. Her dungeons indeed exist no longer, 
the iron doors are forced, the massy walls are thrown 
down ; and the liberated spectres, trembling between 
joy and horror, may now blazon the infernal secrets 
of their prison-house. Her cloistered monks no long- 
er exist, nor does the soft heart of sensibility beat be- 
hind the grate of a convent ; but the best affections of 
the human mind, permitted to flow in their natural 
channel, diffuse their friendly influence over the 
brightening prospect of domestic happiness. Nobles, 
the creatures of kings, exist there no longer : but man, 
the creature of God, exists there. Millions of men 
exist there, who only now truly begin to exist, and 
hail with shouts of grateful acclamation the better 
birthday of their country. Go on, generous nation, 
set the world an example of virtues as you have of 
talents. Be our model, as we have been yours. 
May the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of moderation, the 



~m ON THE REPEAL OP THE 

spirit of firmness, guide and bless your counsels 1 
Overcome our wayward perverseness by your stead- 
iness and temper. Silence the scoffs of your enemies, 
and the misgiving fears of your timorous well-wishers. 
Go on to destroy the empire of prejudices, that empire 
of gigantic shadows, which are only formidable while 
they are not attacked. Cause to succeed to the mad 
ambition of conquest the peaceful industry of commerce, 
and the simple, useful toils of agriculture. Instructed - 
by the experience of past centuries, and by many a 
sad and sanguine page in your own histories, may you 
no more attempt to blend what God has made separate ; 
but may religion and civil polity, like the two necessary 
but opposite elements of fire and water, each in its 
province do service to mankind, but never again be forc- 
ed into discordant union. Let the wandering pilgrims 
of every tribe and complexion, who in other lands find 
only an asylum, find with you a country ; and may you 
never seek other proof of the purity of your faith than 
the largeness of your charity. In your manners, your 
language, and habits of life, let a manly simplicity, be- 
coming the intercourse of equals with equals, take the 
place of overstrained refinement and adulation. Let 
public reformation prepare the way for private. May 
the abolition of domestic tyranny introduce the modest 
train of household virtues, and purer incense be burn- 
ed upon the hallowed altar of conjugal fidelity. Ex- 
hibit to the world the rare phenomenon of a patriot 
minister, of a philosophic senate. May a pure and 
perfect system of legislation proceed from their form- 
ing hands, free from those irregularities and abuses, 
the 'wear and tear of a constitution, which in a course 
of years are necessarily accumulated in the best-formed 
states ; and like the new creation in its first gloss and 
freshness, yet free from any taint of corruption, when 
its Maker blessed and called it good. May you never 



CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS. 25? 

lose sight of the great principle you have held forth, — 
the natural equality of men. May you never forget 
that without public spirit there can be no liberty ; that 
without virtue there may be a confederacy, but cannot 
be a community. May you, and may we, consigning 
to oblivion every less generous competition, only con- 
test who shall set the brightest example to the nations ; 
and may its healing influence be diffused, till the reign 
of Peace shall spread 

......... from shore -to shore, 

Till wars shall cease, and slavery be no more. 

Amidst causes of such mighty operation, what are 
we, and what are our petty, peculiar interests ? Tri- 
umph or despondency at the success or failure of our 
plans, would be treason to the large, expanded, com- 
prehensive wish which embraces the general interests 
of humanity. Here then we fix our foot with un- 
doubting confidence, sure that all events are in the 
hands of him, who from seeming evil 

is still educing good ; 

And better thence again, and better still, 
In infinite progression. 

In this hope we look forward to the period when the 
name of Dissenter shall no more be heard of than that 
of Romanist or Episcopalian ; when nothing shall be 
venerable but truth, and nothing valued but utility. 

A Dissenter. 
March 3, 1790. 

22* 



SINS OF RULERS, SINS OF THE NATION : 

A 

DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

APRIL 19, 1793. 



OT BRETHREN, 

We are called upon by high authority to separate, 
for religious purposes, this portion of our common 
lime. The shops are shut : the artisan is summoned 
from his loom, and the husbandman from his plough ; 
the whole nation, in the midst of its business, its pleas- 
ures, and its pursuits, makes a sudden stop, and wears 
the semblance, at least, of seriousness and concern. It 
is natural for you to inquire, What is the purport of 
all this ? — the answer is in the words of my text : 
" Ye stand this day, all of you, before the face of the 
Lord."— Deuteronomy, xxix. 10. You stand all of 
you, that is, you stand here as a nation, and you stand 
for the declared purpose of confessing your sins, and 
humbling yourselves before the Supreme Being. 

Every individual, my brethren, who has a sense 
of religion, and a desire of conforming his conduct 
to its precepts, will frequently retire into himself to 
discover his faults ; and having discovered, to repent 
of, — and having repented of, to amend them. Na- 
tions have likewise their faults to repent of, their con- 
duct to examine ; and it is therefore no less becoming 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 259 

and salutary, that they, from time to time, should 
engage in the same duty. Those sins which we have 
to repent of as individuals, belong to such transactions 
as relate to our private concerns, and are executed 
by us in our private capacity ; such as buying, selling, 
the management of our family economy, differences 
arising from jarring interests and interfering claims be- 
tween us and our neighbor rj, &tc. Those sins which, 
as a nation, we have to repent of, belong to national 
acts. 

We act as a nation, when, through the organ of the 
legislative power, which speaks the will of the nation, 
and by means of the executive power which does the 
will of the nation, we enact laws, form alliances, make 
war or peace, dispose of the public money, or do any 
of those things which belong to us in our collective 
capacity. As, comparatively, few individuals have 
any immediate share in these public acts, we might be 
tempted to forget the responsibility which attaches to 
the nation at large with regard to them, did not the 
wisdom and piety of the governing powers, by thus 
calling us together on every public emergency, remind 
us that they are all our own acts ; and that, for every 
violation of integrity, justice, or humanity in public 
affairs, it is incumbent upon every one of us to humble 
himself personally before the tribunal of Almighty 
God. 

That this is the true and only rational interpretation 
of the solemnities of this day, is evident from hence, 
that we are never enjoined to confess the sins of other 
people : but our own sins. To take upon ourselves 
the faults of others, savours of presumption rather than 
humility. There would be an absurd mockery in 
pretending to humble ourselves before God for mis- 
deeds which we have neither committed, nor have any 
power to amend. Those evils which we could not help. 



260 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST, 

and in which we have had no share, are subjects of 
grief indeed, but not of remorse. If an oppressive 
law, or a destructive war, were of the nature of a vol- 
cano or a hurricane, proceeding from causes totally 
independent of our operations, — all we should have 
to do would be to bow our heads in silent submission 
and to bear their ravages with a manly patience. We 
do not repent of a dangerous disorder or a sickly con- 
stitution, because these are things which do not depend 
upon our own efforts. If, therefore, the nation at' 
large had nothing to do in the affairs of the nation, 
the piety of our rulers would have led them to fast 
and pray by themselves alone, without inviting us to 
concur in this salutary work. But we are called upon 
to repent of national sins, because we can help them, 
and because we ought to help them. We are not 
fondly to imagine we can make of kings, or of law- 
givers, the scapegoats to answer for our follies and 
our crimes : by the services of this day they call upon 
us to answer for them ; they throw the blame where 
it ought ultimately to rest ; that is, where the power 
ultimately rests. It were trifling with our consciences 
to endeavour to separate the acts of governors sanction- 
ed by the nation, from the acts of the nation ; for, in 
every transaction the principal is answerable for the 
conduct of the agents he employs to transact it. If 
the maxim that the king can do no wrong throws upon 
ministers the responsibility, because without ministers 
no wrong could be done, the same reason throws it 
from them upon the people, without whom ministers 
could do no wrong. 

The language of the Proclamation then may be 
thus interpreted : — People ! who in your individual 
capacities are rich and poor, high and low, governors 
and governed, assemble yourselves in the unity of 
your public existence ; rest from your ordinary occu- 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 261 

pations, give a different direction to the exercises of 
your public worship, confess — not every man his own 
sins, but all the sins of all. We, your appointed 
rulers, before we allow ourselves to go on in executing 
your will in a conjuncture so important, force you to 
make a pause, that you may be constrained to reflect, 
that you may bring this will, paramount to every thing 
else, into the sacred presence of God ; that you may 
there examine it, and see whether it be agreeable to 
his will, and to the eternal obligations of virtue and 
good morals. If not, the guilt be upon your own 
heads; we disclaim the awful responsibility. 

Supposing that you are now prepared by proper 
views of the subject, I shall go on to investigate those 
sins which a nation is most apt to be betrayed into, 
leaving it to each of you to determine whether, and 
how far, any one of them ought to make a part of 
our humiliation on this day. 

Societies being composed of individuals, the faults 
of societies proceed from the same bad passions, the 
same pride, selfishness, and thirst of gain, by which 
individuals are led to transgress the rules of duty ; 
they require therefore the same curb to restrain them, 
and hence the necessity of a national religion. You 
will probably assert, that most nations have one : but, 
by a national religion, I do not mean the burning a 
few wretches twice or thrice in a year in honour of 
God, nor yet the exacting subscription to some ob- 
scure tenets, believed by few, and understood by 
none ; nor yet the investing a certain order of men 
dressed in a particular habit, with civil privileges and 
secular emolument; — by national religion I under- 
stand, the extending to those affairs in which we act 
in common, and as a body, that regard to religion, by 
which, when we act singly, we all profess to be guid- 
ed. Nothing seems more obvious; and yet there are 



262 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

men who appear not insensible to the rules of morali- 
ty as they respect individuals, and who unaccountably 
disclaim them with respect to nations. They will not 
cheat their opposite neighbour, but they will take a 
pride in overreaching a neighbouring state ; they 
would scorn to foment dissensions in the family of an 
acquaintance, but they will do so by a community 
without scruple ; they would not join with a gang of 
housebreakers to plunder a private dwelling, but they- 
have no principle which prevents them from joining 
with a confederacy of princes to plunder a province. 
As private individuals, they think it right to pass by 
little injuries, but as a people they think they cannot 
carry too high a principle of proud defiance and san- 
guinary revenge. This sufficiently shows, that what- 
ever rule they may acknowledge for their private con- 
duct, they have nothing that can be properly called 
national religion ; and indeed, it is very much to be 
suspected, that their religion in the former case is very 
much assisted by the contemplation of those pains 
and penalties which society has provided against the 
crimes of individuals. But the united will of a whole 
people cannot make wrong right, or sanction one act 
of rapacity, injustice, or breach of faith. The first 
principle, therefore, we must lay down is, that we are 
to submit our public conduct to the same rules by 
which we are to regulate our private actions : a nation 
that does this is, as a nation, religious ; a nation that 
does it not, though it should &sVand pray, and wear 
sackcloth, and pay tithes, and build churches, is, as a 
nation, profligate and unprincipled. 

The vices of nations may be divided into those 
which relate to their own internal proceedings, or to 
their relations with other states. With regard to the 
first, the causes for humiliation are various. Many 
nations are guilty of the crime of permitting oppros- 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 20;* 

sive laws and bad governments to remain amongst 
them, by which the poor are crushed, and the lives of 
the innocent are laid at the mercy of wicked and 
arbitrary men. This is a national sin of the deepest 
dye, as it involves in it most others. It is painful to 
reflect how many atrocious governments there are in 
the world ; and how little even they who enjoy good 
ones, seem to understand their true nature. We are 
apt to speak of the happiness of living under a mild 
government, as if it were like . the happiness of living 
under an indulgent climate ; and when we thank God 
for it, we rank it with the blessings of the air and of 
the soil; whereas we ought to thank God for the 
wisdom and virtue of living under a good government ; 
for a good government is the first of national duties. 
It is indeed a happiness, and one which demands our 
most grateful thanks, to be born under one which 
spares us the trouble and hazard of changing it ; but 
a people born under a good government will probably 
not die under one, if they conceive of it as of an in- 
dolent and passive happiness, to be left for its preser- 
vation to fortunate conjunctures, and the floating and 
variable chances of incalculable events ; — our second 
duty is to keep it good. 

We shall not be able to fulfil either of these duties, 
except we cultivate in our hearts the requisite dispo- 
sitions. One of the most fruitful sources of evil in 
the transaction of national affairs, is a spirit of insub- 
ordination. Without a quiet subordination to lawful 
authority, peace, order, and the ends of good govern- 
ment, can never be attained. To fix this subordina- 
tion on its pi oper basis, it is only necessary to establish 
in our minds this plain principle, — that the will of the 
minority should ever yield to that of the majority. By 
this simple c.xiom, founded on those common princi- 
ples of justice which all men understand, the largest 



164 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

society may be held together with equal ease as the 
smallest, provided only some well-contrived and or- 
derly method be established for ascertaining that will. 
It is the immediate extinction of all faction, sedition, 
and tyranny. It supersedes the necessity of govern- 
ing by systems of blinding or terrifying the people. 
It pats an end equally to the cabinet cabal, and the 
muffled conspiracy, and occasions every thing to go 
on smoothly, openly, and fairly ; whereas, if the mi-, 
nority attempt to impose their will upon the majority, 
so unnatural a state of things will not be submitted to 
without constant struggles on the one side, and constant 
jealousies xm the other. There are two descriptions 
of men who ate in danger of forgetting this excellent 
rule ; public functionaries and reformers. Public 
functionaries, being intrusted with large powers for 
managing the affairs of their fellow-citizens, — which 
management, from the nature of things, must neces- 
sarily be in the hands of a few, — are very apt to 
confound the executive power with the governing 
will ; they require, therefore, to be observed with a 
wholesome suspicion, and to be frequently reminded 
of the nature and limits of their office. Reformers, 
conceiving of themselves as of a more enlightened class 
than the bulk of mankind, are likewise apt to forget 
the deference due to them. Stimulated by newly 
discovered truths, of which they feel the full force, 
they are not willing to wait for the gradual spread of 
knowledge, the subsiding of passion, and the under- 
mining of prejudices. They too contemn a sicinish 
multitude , and aim at an aristocracy of talents. It is 
indeed their business to attack the prejudices, and to 
rectify, if they can, the systems of their countrymen, 
but, in the mean time to acquiesce in them. It is 
their business to sow the seed, and let it lie patiently 
in the bosom of the ground, — perhaps for ages. — to 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 205 

prepare, not to bring about revolutions. The public 
is not always in the wrong for not giving in to their 
views, even where they have the appearance of rea- 
son ; for their plans are often crude and premature, 
their ideas too refined for real life, and influenced by 
their own particular cast of thinking : they want peo- 
ple to be happy their way ; whereas every one must 
be happy his own way. Freedom is a good thing ; 
but if a nation is not disposed to accept of it, it is not 
to be presented to them on the point of a bayonet. 
Freedom is a valuable blessing ; but if even a nation 
that has enjoyed that blessing evidently chooses to 
give it up, the voice of the people ought to prevail : 
men of more liberal minds should warn them indeed 
what they are about ; but having done that, they should 
acquiesce. If the established religion, in any country, 
is absurd and superstitious in the eyes of thinking men, 
so long as it is the religion of the generality, it ought 
to prevail, and the minority should not even wish to 
supplant it. The endeavouring to overthrow any sys- 
tem, before it is given up by the majority, is faction ; 
the endeavouring to keep it, after it is given up by them, 
is tyranny ; both are equally wrong, and both proceed 
from the same cause, — the w T ant of a principle of due 
subordination. 

If we find reason to be satisfied with the general 
sketch and outline of government, and with that basis 
of subordination on which we have placed it, it becomes 
us next to examine, whether the filling up of the plan 
be equally unexceptionable. Our laws, are they mild, 
equal, and perspicuous ; free from burdensome forms 
and unnecessary delays ; not a succession of expedi- 
ents growing out of temporary exigencies, but a com- 
pact whole ; not adapted to local prejudices, but 
founded on the broad basis of universal jurisprudence ? 
Are they accessible to rich and poor, sparing of humaa 

vol. ii. 23 



:>G6 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

blood, calculated rather to check and set bounds lo 
the inequality of fortunes than to increase them, rather 
to prevent and reform crimes than to punish them ? — 
If good, are they well administered ? — Is the lenity of 
the laws shown in moderation of the penalties, or in 
the facility of evasion and the frequency of escape ? — 
Do we profit from greater degrees of instruction and 
longer experience, and from time to time clear away 
the trash and refuse of past ages ? What all are bound 
to observe, are they so framed as that all may under- 
stand ? — Is there any provision for instructing the 
people in the various arbitrary obligations that are laid 
upon them, or are they supposed to understand them 
by intuition, because they are too intricate to be ex- 
plained methodically ? — Are punishments proportioned 
to crimes, and rewards to services ; or have we two 
sets of officers, the one to do the work, the other to 
be paid without doing it ? — Have we any locusts in 
the land, any who devour the labours of the husband- 
man without contributing any thing to the good of 
society by their labours of body or of mind ? — Is the 
name of God, and the awfulness of religious sanctions, 
profaned among us by frequent, unnecessary, and 
ensnaring oaths, which lie like stumbling blocks in 
every path of business and preferment, tending to 
corrupt the singleness of truth, and wear away the 
delicacy of conscience ; entangling even the innocence 
and inexperience of children? — Have we calculated 
the false oaths which, in the space of one sun, the 
accusing angel has to carry up from our custom-houses, 
our various courts, our hustings, our offices of taxation, 
and — from our altars ? — Are they such as a tear, if 
we do shed tears on a day such as this, will blot out? 
Have we calculated the mischief which is done to the 
ingenuous mind, when the virgin dignity of his soul is 
first violated by a falsehood ? — Have wo calculated 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. ny ( 

the wound which is given to the peace of a good man, 
the thorns that are strewed upon his pillow, when, 
through hard necessity, he complies with what his soul 
abhors ? Have we calculated the harm done to the 
morals of a nation by the established necessity of per- 
jury ? We shall do well, being now, by the command 
of our rulers, before the Lord, to reflect on these things ; 
and if we want food for our national penitence, per- 
haps we may here find it. 

Extravagance is a fault, to which nations, as well 
as private persons, are very prone, and the consequen- 
ces to both are exactly similar. If a private man 
lives beyond his income, the consequence will be loss 
of independence, disgraceful perplexity, and in the 
end certain ruin. The catastrophes of states are slow- 
er in ripening, but like causes must in the end produce 
like effects. If you are acquainted with any individual, 
who, from inattention to his affairs, misplaced confi- 
dence, foolish law-suits, anticipation of his rents, and 
profusion in his family expenses, has involved himself 
in debts that eat away his income, — what would you 
say to such a one ? Would you not tell him, Con- 
tract your expenses ; look yourself into your affairs ; 
insist upon exact accounts from your steward and 
bailiffs ; keep no servants for mere show and parade ; 
mind only your own affairs, and keep at peace with 
your neighbours; set religiously apart an annual sum 
for discharging the mortgages on your estate. — If this 
be good advice for one man, it is good advice for nine 
millions of men. If this individual should persist in 
his course of unthrifty profusion, saying to himself, 
The ruin will not come in my time ; the misery will 
not fall upon me; let posterity take care of itself! 
would you not pronounce him at once very weak and 
very selfish ? My friends, a nation that should pursue 
the same conduct, would be equally reprehensible. 



:168 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST, 

Pride is a vice in individuals ; it cannot, therefore, 
be a virtue in that number of individuals called a nation. 
A disposition to prefer to every other our own habits of 
life, our own management, our own systems, to suppose 
that we are admired and looked up to by others — 
something of this perhaps is natural, and may be par- 
doned as a weakness, but it can never be exalted into 
a duty ; it is a disposition we ought to check, and not 
to cultivate : there is neither patriotism nor good sense 
in fostering an extravagant opinion of ourselves and 
our own institutions, in being attached even to our 
faults, because they are ours, and because they have 
been ours from generation to generation. An exclu- 
sive admiration of ourselves is generally founded on 
extreme ignorance, and it is not likely to produce any 
thing of a more liberal or better stamp. 

Amongst our national faults, have we any instances 
of cruelty or oppression to repent of? Can we look 
around from sea to sea, and from east to west, and 
say, that our brother hath not aught against us ? If 
such instances do not exist under our immediate eye, 
do they exist any where under our influence and 
jurisdiction ? There are some, whose nerves, rather 
than whose principles, cannot bear cruelty — like other 
nuisances, they would not choose it in sight, but they 
can be well content to know it exists, and that they are 
indebted to it for the increase of their income, and the 
luxuries of their table. Are there not some darker- 
coloured children of the same family over whom we as- 
sume a hard and unjust control ? And have not these 
brethren aught against us ? If we suspect they have, 
our would it not become us anxiously to inquire into the 
truth, that we may deliver our souls ; but if we know 
it, and cannot help knowing it, if such enormities have 
been pressed and forced upon our notice, till they are 
become flat and stale in the public ear, from fulnes* 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 269 

and repetition, and satiety of proof ; and if they are 
still sanctioned by our legislature, defended by oui 
princes — deep indeed is the colour of our guilt. And 
do we appoint fasts, and make pretences to religion ? 
Do we pretend to be shocked at the principles or the 
practices of neighbouring nations, and start with af- 
fected horror at the name of Atheist ? Are our con- 
sciences so tender, and our hearts so hard ? Is it pos- 
sible we should meet as a nation, and knowing our- 
selves to be guilty of these things, have the confidence 
to implore the blessing of God upon our commerce 
and our colonies : preface with prayer our legislative 
meetings, and then deliberate how long we shall con- 
tinue human sacrifices ? Rather let us 

Never pray more, abandon all remorse. 

Let us lay aside the grimace of hypocrisy, stand up 
for what we are, and boldly profess, like the emperor 
of old, that every thing is sweet from which money is 
extracted, and that we know better than to deprive 
ourselves of a gain for the sake of a fellow-creature. 

I next invite you, my friends, to consider your con- 
duct with regard to other states. Different commu- 
nities are neighbours, living together in a state of na- 
ture ; that is, without any common tribunal to which 
they may carry their differences ; but they are not 
the less bound to all the duties of neighbours, — to 
mutual sincerity, justice, and kind offices. 

First, to sincerity. It is imagined, I know not why, 
that transactions between states cannot be carried on 
without a great deal of intrigue and dissimulation. 
But I am apt to think the nation that should venture 
to disclaim this narrow and crooked policy, and 
should act and speak with a noble frankness, would 
lose nothing by the proceeding ; honest intentions 
will bear to be told in plain language : if our views 



270 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

upon each other are for our mutual advantage, the 
whole mystery of them may be unfolded without dan- 
ger ; and if they are not, they will soon be detected 
by practitioners as cunning and dexterous as ourselves. 
Secondly, we are bound to justice — not only in ex- 
ecuting our engagements, but in cultivating a spirit of 
moderation in our very wishes. Most contrary to 
this is a species of patriotism, which consists in invert- 
ing the natural course of our feelings, in being afraid 
of our neighbour's prosperity, and rejoicing at his mis- 
fortunes. We should be ashamed to say, My neigh- 
bour's house was burnt down last night, I am glad of 
it, I shall have more custom to my shop. My neigh- 
bour, thank God, has broken his arm, I shall be sent 
for to attend the families in which he was employed ; 
— but we are not ashamed to say, Our neighbours 
are weakening themselves by a cruel war, we shall 
rise upon their ruins. We must act in opposition to 
the peacemakers ; we must hinder them from being 
reconciled, and blow the coals of discord, otherwise 
their commerce will revive, and goods may remain in 
our crammed warehouses. Our neighbours have bad 
laws and a weak government : Heaven forbid they 
should change them ! for then they might be more 
flourishing than ourselves. We have tracts of territo- 
ry which we cannot people for ages, but we must take 
great care that our neighbour does not get any footing 
there, for he would soon make them very useful to 
him. — Thus do we extend our grasping hands from 
east to west, from pole to pole ; and in our selfish 
monopolizing spirit are almost angry that the sun 
should ripen any productions but for our markets, or 
the ocean bear any vessels but our own upon its 
broad bosom. We are not ashamed to use that sole- 
cism in terms natural enemies ; as if nature, and not 
our own bad passions, made us enemies ; as if that 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 271 

relation, from which, in private life, flows confidence, 
affection, endearing intercourse, were in nations only 
a signal for mutual slaughter ; and we were like ani- 
mals of prey, solitarily ferocious, who look with a 
jealous eye on every rival that intrudes within their 
range of devastation — and yet this language is heard 
in a christian country, and these detestable maxims 
veil themselves under the semblance of virtue and 
public spirit. We have a golden rule, if we will but 
apply it : it will measure great things as well as small ; 
it will measure as true at the Antipodes, or on the 
coast of Guinea, as in our native fields. It is that 
universal standard of weights and measures which 
alone will simplify all business : Do to others, as ye 
would that others should do unto you. 

There is a notion which has a direct tendency to 
make us unjust, because it tends to make us think 
God so ; I mean the idea which most nations have 
entertained, that they are the peculiar favourites of 
Heaven. We nourish our pride by fondly fancying 
that we are the only nation for whom the providence 
of God exerts itself; the only nation whose form of 
worship is agreeable to him ; the only nation whom 
he has endowed with a competent share of wisdom to 
frame wise laws and rational governments. Each 
nation is to itself the fleece of Gideon, and drinks ex- 
clusively the dew of science : but as God is no re- 
specter of persons, so neither is he of nations ; he has 
not, like earthly monarchs, his favourites. There is 
a great deal even in our thanksgivings which is ex- 
ceptionable on this account ; " God, we thank thee, 
that we are not like other nations ;" — yet we freely 
load ourselves with every degree of guilt ; but then 
we like to consider ourselves as a child that is chid- 
den, and others as outcasts. 

When the workings of these bad passions are swell- 



272 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

ed to their height by mutual animosity and opposition, 
war ensues. War is a state in which all our feelings 
and our duties suffer a total and strange inversion ; a 
state in which 

Life dies, Death lives, and Nature breeds 
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things. 

A state in which it becomes our business to hurt and 
annoy our neighbour by every possible means ; instead 
of cultivating, to destroy ; instead of building, to pull 
down ; instead of peopling, to depopulate : a state in 
which we drink the tears, and feed upon the misery of 
our fellow-creatures. Such a state, therefore, requires 
the extremest necessity to justify it ; it ought not to be 
the common and usual state of society. As both parties 
cannot be in the right, there is always an equal chance 
at least, to either of them, of being in the wrong ; but 
as both parties may be to blame, and most commonly 
are, the chance is very great indeed against its being 
entered into from any adequate cause ; yet war may be 
said to be, with regard to nations, the sin which most 
easily besets them. We, my friends, in common with 
other nations, have much guilt to repent of from this 
cause, and it ought to make a large part of our hu- 
miliations on this day. When we carry our eyes 
back through the long records of our history, we see 
wars of plunder, wars of conquest, wars of religion, 
wars of pride, wars of succession, wars of idle specu- 
lation, wars of unjust interference ; and hardly among 
them one war of necessary self-defence in any of our 
essential or very important interests. Of late years, 
indeed, we have known none of the calamities of war 
in our own country but the wasteful expense of it ; 
and sitting aloof from those circumstances of personal 
provocation, which in some measure might excuse its 
fury, we have calmly voted slaughter and merchan- 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 273 

dized destruction — so much blood and tears for so 
many rupees, or dollars, or ingots. Our wars have 
been wars of cool calculating interest, as free from 
hatred as from love of mankind ; the passions which 
stir the blood have had no share in them. We de- 
vote a certain number of men to perish on land and 
sea, and the rest of us sleep sound, and, protected in 
our usual occupations, talk of the events of war as 
what diversifies the flat uniformity of life. 

We should, therefore, do well to translate this word 
war into language more intelligible to us. When we 
pay our army and our navy estimates, let us set down 
— so much for killing, so much for maiming, so much 
for making widows and orphans, so much for bringing 
famine upon a district, so much for corrupting citizens 
and subjects into spies and traitors, so much for ruining 
industrious tradesmen and making bankrupts (of that 
species of distress at least we can form an idea,) so 
much for letting loose the daemons of fury, rapine, and 
lust, within the fold of cultivated society, and giving to 
the brutal ferocity of the most ferocious, its full scope 
and range of invention. We shall by this means know 
what we have paid our money for, whether we have 
made a good bargain, and whether the account is 
likely to pass — elsewhere. We must take in too, all 
those concomitant circumstances which make war, 
considered as battle, the least part of itself, pars mini- 
ma sui. We must fix our eyes, not on the hero re- 
turning with conquest, nor yet on the gallant officer 
dying in the bed of honour, — the subject of picture 
and of song, — but on the private soldier, forced into 
the service, exhausted by camp-sickness and fatigue ; 
pale, emaciated, crawling to an hospital with the pros- 
pect of life, perhaps a long life, blasted, useless, and 
suffering. We must think of the uncounted tears of 
her who weeps alone, because the only being who 



274 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

shared her sentiments is taken from her ; no martial 
music sounds in unison with her feelings ; the long 
day passes, and he returns not. She does not shed 
her sorrows over his grave, for she has never learnt 
whether he ever had one. If he had returned, his 
exertions would not have been remembered individ- 
ually, for he only made a small imperceptible part of 
a human machine, called a regiment. We must take 
in the long sickness, which no glory soothes, occa- 
sioned by distress of mind, anxiety and ruined for- 
tunes. These are not fancy-pictures; and if you 
please to heighten them, you can every one of you 
do it for yourselves. We must take in the conse- 
quences, felt perhaps for ages, before a country which 
has been completely desolated, lifts its head again ; 
like a torrent of lava, its worst mischief is not the 
first overwhelming ruin of towns and palaces, but the 
long sterility to which it condemns the tract it has 
covered with its stream. Add the danger to regular 
governments which are changed by war, sometimes to 
anarchy, and sometimes to despotism. Add all these, 
and then let us think when a general performing these 
exploits, is saluted with, " Well done, good and faith- 
ful servant," whether the plaudit is likely to be echoed 
in another place. 

In this guilty business there is a circumstance which 
greatly aggravates its guilt, and that is the impiety of 
calling upon the Divine Being to assist us in it. Al- 
most all nations have been in the habit of mixing with 
their bad passions a show of religion, and of prefacing 
these their murders with prayers and the solemnities 
of worship. When they send out their armies to 
desolate a country and destroy the fair face of nature, 
they have the presumption to hope that the Sovereign 
of the Universe will condescend to be their auxiliary, 
and to enter into their petty and despicable contests. 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 275 

Their prayer, if put into plain language, would run 
thus : God of love, father of all the families of the 
earth, we are going to tear in pieces our brethren of 
mankind, but our strength is not equal to our fury, we 
beseech thee to assist us in the work of slaughter. 
Go out, we pray thee, with our fleets and armies ; we 
call them christian, and we have interwoven in our 
banners and the decorations of our arms the symbols 
of a suffering religion, that we may fight under the 
cross upon which our Saviour died. Whatever mis- 
chief we do, we shall do it in thy name ; we hope, 
therefore, thou wilt protect us in it. Thou, who hast 
made of one blood all the dwellers upon the earth, 
we trust thou wilt view us alone with partial favour, 
and enable us to bring misery upon every other quar- 
ter of the globe. — Now if we really expect such 
prayers to be answered, we are the weakest, if not, 
we are the most hypocritical of beings. 

Formerly, this business was managed better, and 
had in it more show of reason and probability. When 
mankind conceived of their gods as partaking of like 
passions with themselves, they made a fair bargain 
with them on these occasions. Their chieftains, they 
knew, were influenced by such motives, and they 
thought their gods might well be so too. Go out with 
us, and you shall have a share of the spoil. Your altars 
shall stream with the blood of so many noble captives ; 
or you shall have ? hecatomb of fat oxen, or a golden 
tripod. Have we any thing of this kind to propose ? 
Can we make any thing like a handsome offer to the 
Almighty, to tempt him to enlist himself on our side :' 
Such things have been done before now in the chris- 
tian world. Churches have been promised, and 
church lands, — aye, and honesdy paid too ; at other 
times silver shrines, incense, vestments, tapers, ac- 
cording to the occasion. Oh how justly may the 



;276 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

awful text be here applied ! " He that sitteth in the 
heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in de- 
rision." Christians ! I shudder, lest in the earnest- 
ness of my heart I may have sinned, in suffering such 
impious propositions to escape my lips. In short, 
while w r e must be perfectly conscious in our own 
minds, that the generality of our w r ars are the offspring 
of mere worldly ambition and interest, let us, if we 
must have wars, carry them on as other such things' 
are carried on ; and not think of making a prayer to 
be used before murder, any more than of composing- 
prayers to be used before we enter a gambling-house, 
or a place of licentious entertainment. Bad actions 
are made wprise by hypocrisy : an unjust war is in it- 
self so bad a thing, that there is only one way of mak- 
ing it worse, — and that is, by mixing religion with it. 
These, my friends, are some of the topics on which, 
standing as a nation this day before the Lord, it will 
be proper that we should examine ourselves. There 
yet remains a serious question : How far, as individ- 
uals, are we really answerable for the guilt of national 
sins ? For his own sins, it is evident, every man is 
wiiolly answerable ; for those of an aggregate body, it 
is as evident he can be only answ T erable in part ; and 
that portion and measure of iniquity, which falls to 
his share, will be more or less, according as he has 
been more or less deeply engaged in those transac- 
tions which are polluted with it. There is an active 
and a passive concurrence. We give our active con- 
currence to any measure, when we support it by any 
voluntary exertion, or bestow on it any mark of ap- 
probation ; when, especially, we are the persons for 
whose sake, and for whose emolument, systems of in- 
justice or cruelty are carried on. The man of wealth 
and influence, who feeds and fattens upon the mise- 
ries of his fellow-creatures ; the man in power, who 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 277 

plans abuses, or prevents their being swept away, is 
the very Jonas of the ship, and ought this day to stand 
foremost in the rank of national penitents. But there 
is also a passive concurrence ; and this, in common 
cases, the community appears to have a right to ex- 
pect from us. Society could not exist, if every indi- 
vidual took it upon himself not only to judge, but to 
act from his own judgement in those things in which 
a nation acts collectively. The law, therefore, which 
is the expression of the general will, seems to be a 
sufficient sanction for us, when, in obedience to its 
authority, we pay taxes, and comply with injunctions, 
in support of measures which we believe to be hurt- 
ful, and even iniquitous ; and this, not because the 
guilt of a bad action, as some fondly imagine, is di- 
luted and washed away in the guilt of multitudes ; but 
because it is a necessary condition of political union, 
that private will should be yielded up to the will of 
the public. We shall do well, however, to bear in 
mind the principle on which we comply, that we may 
not go a step beyond it. 

There are, indeed, cases of such atrocity, that even 
this concurrence would be criminal. What these are, 
it is impossible to specify ; every man must draw the 
line for himself. — I suppose no one will pretend, that 
any maxims of military subordination could justify the 
officers of Herod in the slaughter of the children of 
Bethlehem ; and certainly the orders of Louvois, in 
the Palatinate, and of Catharine de' Medici, on the 
day of St. Bartholomew, were not less cruel. In our 
own country, it has been the official duty of magis- 
trates to burn alive quiet and innocent subjects, who 
differed from them in opinion. Rather than fulfil 
such duties, a man of integrity will prepare himself to 
suffer, and a christian knows where such sufferings 
will be rewarded. — The honourable delinquency of 

vol. ii. 24 



278 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

those who have submitted to be the victims, rather 
than the instruments of injustice, has ever been held 
worthy of praise and admiration. 

But though, for the sake of peace and order, we 
ought, in general cases, to give our passive concur- 
rence to measures which we may think wrong, peace 
and order do not require us to give them the sanction 
of our approbation. On the contrary, the more strict- 
ly we are bound to acquiesce, the more it is incum- 
bent on us to remonstrate. Every good man owes it 
to his country and to his own character, to lift his 
voice against a ruinous war, an unequal tax, or an 
edict of persecution ; and to oppose them, temperate- 
ly, but firmly, by all the means in his power : and 
indeed this is the only way reformations can ever be 
brought about, or that government can enjoy the ad- 
vantage of general opinion. 

This general opinion has, on a recent occasion, 
been sedulously called for, and most of you have com- 
plied with the requisition. You, who have on this 
occasion given warm and unqualified declarations of 
attachment to the existing systems, you have done 
well — You, who have denounced abuses, and declar- 
ed your wishes for reform, you have done well like- 
wise, provided each of you has acted from the sincere, 
unbiassed conviction of his own mind. But if you 
have done it lightly, and without judgement, you have 
done ill ; if against judgement, worse : if, by any im- 
proper influence, you have interfered with the liberty 
of your neighbour, or your dependent, and caused 
him to act against his judgement and his conscience, 
— worse still. If the ferment of party has stirred up 
a spirit of rancour and animosity among friends and 
townsmen, or introduced the poison of distrust amidst 
the freedom and security of social life, we stand this 
day before the Lord : and if our brother hath aught 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 279 

against us, " let us go first, and be reconciled to our 
brother, and then come and offer our gift." 

If any of us have disturbed or misled weaker minds 
by exaggerated danger and affected alarm, and, prac- 
tising on their credulity or their ignorance, have rais- 
ed passions which it would have better become us to 
have moderated — or if, on the other hand, we have 
cried, " Peace, peace, where there is no peace" — 
we are this day before the Lord, let shame and re- 
morse for these practices make a distinguished part of 
our national humiliation. 

Repent this day, not only of the actual evil you 
have done, but of the evil of which your actions have 
been the cause. — If you slander a good man, you are 
answerable for all the violence of which that slander 
may be the remote cause ; if you raise undue preju- 
dices against any particular class or description of 
citizens, and they suffer through the bad passions your 
misrepresentations have worked up against them, you 
are answerable for the injury r , though you have not 
wielded the bludgeon, or applied the firebrand ; if you 
place power in improper hands, you are answerable 
for the abuse of that power ; if you oppose concilia- 
tory measures, you are answerable for the distress 
w T hich more violent ones may produce. If you use 
intemperate invectives and inflammatory declamation, 
you are answ T erable if others shed blood. It is not 
sufficient, even if our intentions are pure ; we must 
weigh the tendencies of our actions, for we are an- 
swerable, in a degree at least, for those remote con- 
sequences which, though we did not intend, we might 
have foreseen. If we inculcate the plausible doctrine 
of unlimited confidence, we draw upon ourselves the 
responsibility of all the future measures which that 
confidence may sanction. If we introduce tenets 
leaning towards arbitrary pow 7 er, the generations to 



280 A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 

come will have a right to curse the folly of their fore- 
fathers, when they are reaping the bitter fruits of them 
in future star-chambers, and courts of inquisitorial ju- 
risdiction. If the precious sands of our liberty are, 
perhaps, of themselv r es running out, how shall we be 
justified to ourselves or to posterity, if, with a rash 
hand, we shake the glass. 

If, on the other hand, through vanity, a childish 
love of novelty, a spirit of perverse opposition, or any 
motive still more sordidly selfish, we are precipitated 
into measures which ought to be the result of the 
most serious consideration — if by " foolish talking or 
jestings, which are not convenient," we have lessened 
the reverence due to constituted authorities, or slack- 
ened the bonds which hold society together ; ours is 
the blame, when the hurricane is abroad in the world, 
and doing its work of mischief. 

The course of events in this country has now, for 
a number of generations, for a long reach, as it were, 
of the stream of time, run smooth, and our political 
duties have been proportionally easy ; but it may not 
always be so. A sudden bend may change the di- 
rection of the current, and open scenes less calm. It 
becomes every man, therefore, to examine his princi- 
ples, whether they are of that firmness and texture as 
suits the occasion he may have for them. If we want 
a light gondola to float upon a summer lake, we look 
at the form and gilding ; but if a vessel to steer through 
storms, we examine the strength of the timbers, and 
the soundness of the bottom. We want principles, 
not to figure in a book of ethics, or to delight us with 
"grand and swelling sentiments;" but principles by 
which we may act and by which we may suffer. 
Principles of benevolence, to dispose us to real sacri- 
fices ; political principles, of practical utility ; princi- 
ples of religion, to comfort and support us under aJ} 



A DISCOURSE FOR THE FAST. 281 

the trying vicissitudes we see around us, and which 
we have no security that we shall be long exempt 
from. How many are there now suffering under such 
overwhelming distresses, as, a short time ago, we 
should have thought it was hardly within the verge of 
possibility that they should experience ! Above all, let 
us keep our hearts pure, and our hands clean. What- 
ever part we take in public affairs, much will undoubt- 
edly happen which we could by no means foresee, 
and much which we shall not be able to justify ; the 
only way, therefore, by which we can avoid deep re- 
morse, is to act with simplicity and singleness of in- 
tention, and not to suffer ourselves to be warped, 
though by ever so little, from the path which honour 
and conscience approve. 

Principles, such as I have been recommending, are 
not the work of a day ; they are not to be acquired 
by any formal act of worship, or manual of devotion 
adapted to the exigency ; and it will little avail us, 
that we have stood here, as a nation, before the Lord, 
if, individually, we do not remember that we are al- 
ways so. 



24* 



REMARKS 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY 



EXPEDIENCY OF SOCIAL WORSHIP. 



• in swarming cities vast? 

Assembled men, to the deep organ join 
The long resounding voice, oft breaking clear, 
At solemn pauses, through the swelling base ; 
And, as each mingling flame increases each, 
In one united ardour rise to heaven. 

Thomson 



There are some practices which have not been 
defended because they have never been attacked. 
Of this number is public or social worship. It has 
been recommended, urged, enforced, but never vindi- 
cated. Through worldliness, scepticism, indolence, 
dissatisfaction with the manner of conducting it, it has 
been often neglected ; but it is a new thing to hear it 
condemned. The pious and the good have lament- 
ed its insufficiency to the reformation of the world, 
but they were yet to learn that it was unfriendly to it. 
Satisfied with silent and solitary desertion, those who 
did not concur in the homage paid by their fellow- 
citizens were content to acquiesce in its propriety, and 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, & c . 283 

had not hitherto assumed the dignity of a sect. A 
late pamphlet of Mr. Wakefield's has therefore excited 
the attention of the public, partly, no doubt, from the 
known abilities of the author, but still more from the 
novelty and strangeness of the doctrine. If intended 
as an apology, no publication can be more seasonable \ 
but if meant as an exhortation, or rather a dehorta- 
tion, it is a labour which many will think, from the 
complexion of the times and the tendencies of increas- 
ing habits, might well have been spared. It is an 
awkward circumstance for the apostle of such a per- 
suasion, that he will have many practical disciples 
whom he will hardly care to own ; and that if he suc- 
ceeds in making proselytes, he must take them from 
the more sober and orderly part of the community ; 
and class them, as far as this circumstance affords a 
distinction, along with the uneducated, the profligate, 
and the unprincipled. The negative tenet he incul- 
cates does not mark his converts with sufficient preci- 
sion : their scrupulosity will be in danger of being 
confounded with the carelessness of their neighbours; 
and it will be always necessary to ask, Do you abstain 
because you are of this religion, or because you are 
of no religion at all ? 

It would be unfair, however, to endeavour to ren- 
der Mr. Wakefield's opinions invidious ; they, as well 
as every other opinion, must be submitted to the test 
of argument ; and public worship, as well as every 
other practice, must stand on the basis of utility and 
good sense, or it must not stand at all : and in the 
latter case, it is immaterial whether it is left to moul- 
der like the neglected ruin, or battered down like the 
formidable tower. 

It will stand upon this basis, if it can be shown to 
be agreeable to our nature, sanctioned by universal 
practice, countenanced by revealed religion, and that 



284 REMARKS ON 

its tendencies are favourable to the morals and man- 
ners of mankind. 

What is public worship ? Kneeling down together 
while prayers are said of a certain length and con- 
struction, and hearing discourses made to a sentence 
of Scripture called a text ! — Such might be the defi- 
nition of an unenlightened person, but such would 
certainly not be Mr. Wakefield's. The question 
ought to be agitated on much larger ground. If these 
practices are shown to be novel, it does not follow 
that public worship is so, in that extensive sense which 
includes all modes and varieties of expression. To 
establish its antiquity, we must therefore investigate its 
nature. 

Public worship is the public expression of homage 
to the Sovereign of the Universe. It is that tribute 
from men united in families, in towns, in communities,- 
which individually men owe to their Maker. Every 
nation has therefore found some organ by which to 
express this homage, some language, rite, or symbol, 
by which to make known their religious feelings ; but 
this organ has not always, nor chiefly, been words. 
The killing an animal, the throwing a few grains of 
incense into the fire, the eating bread and drinking 
wine, are all in themselves indifferent actions, and 
have apparently little connexion with devotion ; yet 
all of these have been used as worship, and are wor- 
ship when used with that intention. The solemn 
sacrifices and anniversary festivals of the Jews, at 
which their capital and their temple were thronged 
with votaries from every distant part of the kingdom, 
were splendid expressions of their religious homage. 
Their worship, indeed, was interwoven with their 
whole civil constitution ; and so, though in a subordi- 
nate degree, was that of the Greeks and Romans, 
and most of the states of antiquity. There has never 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 285 

existed a nation, at all civilized, which has not had 
some appointed form of supplication, some stated 
mode of signifying the dependence we are under to 
the Supreme Being, and as a nation imploring his 
protection. It is not pretended that these modes 
were all equally rational, equally edifying, equally 
proper for imitation, equally suitable for every state of 
society ; they have varied according as a nation was 
more or less advanced in refinement and decorum, 
more or less addicted to symbolical expression — to 
violent gesticulation — and more or less conversant 
with abstract ideas and metaphysical speculation. 
But whether the Deity is worshipped by strewing 
flowers and building tabernacles of verdure ; by 
dances round the altar, and the shouts of a cheerful 
people ; by offering the first-fruits of harvest, and par- 
taking in the social feast ; by tones of music, inter- 
preted only by the heart ; or by verbal expressions of 
gratitude and adoration — whether the hallelujahs of 
assembled multitudes rise together in solemn chorus ; 
or whether they listen with composed and reverential 
attention to the voice of one man, appointed by them 
to be the organ of their feelings — whether a number 
of people meet together like the Quakers, and each 
in silence prefers his mental petition — wherever men 
together perform a stated act as an expression of 
homage to their Maker, there is the essence of public 
worship ; and public worship has therefore this mark 
of being agreeable to the nature of man, — that it has 
been found agreeable to the sense of mankind in all 
ages and nations, 

It is, indeed, difficult to imagine that beings, sensi- 
ble of common wants and a common nature, should 
not join together in imploring common blessings ; that, 
prone as men are in every other circumstance to as- 
sociate together, and communicate the electric fire of 



%86 REMARKS ON 

correspondent feelings, they should act with unsocial 
reserve only where those interests are concerned 
which are confessedly the most important. Such is 
the temperament of man, that in every act and every 
event he anxiously looks around him to claim the 
gratulation or sympathy of his fellows. Religion, 
says Mr. Wakefield, is a personal thing : so is mar- 
riage, so is the birth of a child, so is the loss of a be- 
loved relative ; yet on all these occasions we are - 
strongly impelled to public solemnization. We neither 
laugh alone, nor weep alone, — w r hy then should we 
pray alone ? None of our feelings are of a more com- 
municable nature than our religious ones. If devo- 
tion really exists in the heart of each individual, it is 
morally impossible it should exist there apart and sin- 
gle. So many separate tapers, burning so near each 
other, in the very nature of things must catch, and 
spread into one common flame. The reciprocal ad- 
vantages, which public and private worship possess 
over each other, are sufficiently obvious to make both 
desirable. While the former is more animated, the 
latter comes more intimately home to our own cir- 
cumstances and feelings, and allows our devotion to 
be more particular and appropriated. To most of 
the objections made against the one, the other is 
equally liable. Superstition can drop her solitary 
beads, as well as vociferate the repetition of a public 
collect : if symptoms of weariness and inattention may 
be observed in our churches, we have only to look in- 
to the diaries of the most pious christians, and we 
shall find still heavier complaints of the dullness and 
deadness of their spiritual frame : the thoughts may 
wander in the closet when the door is shut : folly and 
selfishness will send up improper petitions from the 
cell as well as from the congregation. Nay, public 
worship has this great advantage, — that it teaches 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 2S7 

those to pray, who, not being accustomed to think, 
cannot of themselves pray with judgement. To all, it 
teaches that we are not to pray for exclusive advan- 
tages, but to consider ourselves as members of a com- 
munity. Our inmost wishes learn restraint while our 
petitions are thus directed, and our desires by degrees 
conform themselves to that spirit of moderation and 
justice, without which we cannot join in the compre- 
hensive prayer, that must include the joint supplica- 
tions of a numerous assembly. Public worship has 
this further advantage over private, that it is better 
secured against languor on one side, and enthusiasm 
on the other. If the devotional sentiment has not 
taken deep root in his mind, a man will scarcely keep 
up, in silence and in solitude, an intercourse to which 
he is prompted by no external appearance, and of 
which he is reminded by no circumstance of time or 
place. And if his sense of invisible things is strong 
enough to engage his mind in spite of these disadvan- 
tages, there is room to fear, lest, by brooding in si- 
lence over objects of such indistinct vastness, his be- 
wildered ideas and exalted imagination should lead 
him to the reveries of mysticism ; an extreme no less 
to be dreaded than that of indifference. When ^h\ 
Wakefield, to strengthen his argument for seclusion in 
our religious exercises, directs our attention to the 
mount of Olives and the garden of Gethsemane, he 
should recollect that our Saviour sustained a charac- 
ter to which we cannot presume to aspire ; and that, 
however favourable the desert and the wilderness 
have been to prophets visited by extraordinary illumi- 
nations, they cannot be equally suitable to the regular 
devotion of ordinary christians. From the gloom of 
the cloister and the loneliness of the cell have pro- 
ceeded the most extravagant deviations from nature 
and from reason. Enthusiasm is indeed most dan- 



288 REMARKS ON 

gerous in a crowd, but it seldom originates there. 
The mind, heated with intense thinking, adopts illu- 
sions to which it is not exposed when its devotion is 
guided and bounded by addresses which are intended 
to meet the common sentiments of a numerous assem- 
bly. Religion then appears with the most benignant 
aspect, is then least likely to be mistaken, when the 
presence of our fellow-creatures points out its connex- 
ion with the businesses of life and the duties of socie- 
ty. Solitary devotion, for worldly minds, is insuffi- 
cient, for weak minds it is not profitable, for ardent 
minds it is not safe. 

We must however do that justice to the author of 
the Enquiry, as to confess that he betrays no disposi- 
tion to carry these exercises to any extreme. On 
the contrary, some of his expressions seem to strike 
at the root of all prayer, properly so called, as being 
the weak effort of an infirm and unphilosophical mind 
to alter the order of nature and the decrees of Provi- 
dence, in which it rather becomes the wise man to 
acquiesce with a manly resignation. Without enter- 
ing into a discussion, in which, perhaps, we might 
misrepresent his sentiments ; as, in the greater part 
of his pamphlet, he has taken the ground of Scrip- 
ture, which undoubtedly countenances the earnestness, 
and almost the importunity of petition ; it may be 
sufficient for the present purpose to observe, that if 
there exists a man who, believing himself to be in the 
continual presence of Infinite Power, directed by in- 
finite love and tender compassion to all his creatures 
— thinking often of this Being, and habitually refer- 
ring every disposition of events to his providence — 
feeling himself more constantly and intimately con- 
nected with him than with all creation besides — can, 
in every vicissitude of his life, in sickness and in sor- 
row, in imminent danger, anxious uncertainty, desertion 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 289 

or loss of friends, and all the trying circumstances of 
humanity that flesh is heir to ; forbear, for himself or 
for those dearer to him than himself, to put up one 
petition to the throne of God, — such a one may be 
allowed to strike out every petition in the Lord's 
Prayer but thaf comprehensive one, " thy will be 
done." If his faith be equally lively, his devotional 
feelings equally fervent, his sense of dependence upon 
God equally felt in his inmost soul, we dare not pre- 
sume to censure the temperance of his religious ad- 
dresses. We respect the subdued sobriety of his 
wishes ; and we do not, we cannot suppose him de- 
serted by the Supreme Being for that modest forbear- 
ance which proceeds from a resignation so absolute 
and complete. Others, however, whose philosophy is 
not of so firm a texture, may plead the example of 
him who prayed, though with meek submission, that 
the cup of bitterness might pass from him ; and wiio, 
as the moment of separation approached, interceded 
for his friends and followers with all the anxiety of 
affectionate tenderness. But we will venture to say 
that practically there is no such philosopher. If 
prayer were not enjoined for the perfection, it would 
be permitted to the weakness of our nature. We 
shouTd be betrayed into it, if we thought it sin ; and 
pious ejaculations would escape our lips, though we 
were obliged to preface them with, God forgive me 
for praying ! 

To those who press the objection, that we cannot 
see in what manner our prayers can be answered, 
consistently with the government of the world accord- 
ing to those general law T s by which we find, in fact, 
that it is governed ; it may be sufficient to say, that 
prayer, being made almost an instinct of our nature, 
it cannot be supposed but that, like all other instincts, 
it has its use ; that no idea can be less philosophical 

vol. ii. 25 



•290 REMARKS ON 

than one which implies, that the existence of a God 
who governs the world, should make no difference in 
our conduct ; and few things less probable, than that 
the child-like submission which bows to the will of a 
father, should be exactly similar in feature to the 
stubborn patience which bends under the yoke of ne- 
cessity. 

It may be further observed, that petitions for tem- 
poral advantages, — such, I mean, as a spirit of mode- 
ration will allow us to wish with sufficient ardour to 
make them the subject of our prayers, — are not liable 
to more objections than petitions for spiritual blessings. 
In either case the weak man does, and the wise man 
does not expect a miracle. That the arrogant, the 
worldly, and the licentious, should on a sudden, and 
without their own strenuous endeavours, be rendered 
humble, simple-minded, and pure of heart, would be 
as great a violation of the order of nature in the moral 
world, as it would be in the natural world that the 
harvest should ripen without the co-operation of the 
husbandman, and the slow influence of the seasons. 
Indeed, as temporal blessings are less in our power 
than dispositions, and are sometimes entirely out of it, 
it seems more reasonable of the two to pray for the 
former than for the latter ; and it is remarkable'that, 
in the model given us in the Lord's Prayer, there is 
not a single petition for any virtue or good disposition, 
but there is one for daily bread. Good dispositions, 
particularly a spirit of resignation, are declared and 
implied in the petitions, but they are not prayed for : 
events are prayed for, and circumstances out of our 
own power, relative to our spiritual concerns, are 
prayed for, — as, the not being led into temptation ; 
but there is no prayer that we may be made holy, 
meek, or merciful. Nor is it an objection to praying 
for health, that sickness may possibly turn out a bless- 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 291 

ing, since it is no objection to the using all the means 
in our power to get rid of sickness, which we do as 
eagerly and as unreservedly as if we had not the least 
idea that it ever could be salutary, And we do right ; 
for the advantages of sickness are casual and adven- 
titious ; but health is in itself, and in its natural ten- 
dencies, a blessing devoutly to be wished for. That 
no advantage of this nature ought to be prayed or 
wished for, unqualified with the deepest submission to 
the will of God, is an undoubted truth ; and it is a 
truth likewise universally acknowledged by all rational 
christians. 

It cannot be denied, however, that great reserve is 
necessary in putting up specific petitions, especially of 
a public nature ; but generally the fault lies in our 
engaging in wrong pursuits, rather than in imploring 
upon our pursuits the favour of Heaven. Humanity 
is shocked to hear prayers for the success of an un- 
just war ; but humanity and Heaven were then of- 
fended when the war was engaged in ; for war is of a 
nature sufficiently serious to warrant our prayers to be 
preserved from the calamities of it, if we have not 
voluntarily exposed ourselves to them. The frivolous 
nature of most national contests appears strongly in 
this very circumstance, that petitions from either side 
have the air of a profanation ; but if, in some serious 
conjuncture, our country was ready to be overwhelmed 
by an ambitious neighbour, — as that of the Dutch 
was in the time of Louis the Fourteenth, — in such a 
season of calamity, the sternest philosopher would 
give way to the instinctive dictates of nature, and im- 
plore the help which cometh from on high. The 
reason why both sides cannot pray with propriety, is 
because both sides cannot act with justice. 

But supposing we were to discard all petition as 
the weak effort of infirm minds to alter the unbroken 



392 REMARKS ON 

chain of events ; as the impatient breathings of crav- 
ing and restless spirits, not broken into patient acqui- 
escence with the eternal order of Providence — the 
noblest office of worship still remains : 

Praise is devotion fit for mighty minds, 
The jarring world's agreeing sacrifice. 

And this is surely of a social nature. One class of 
religious duties separately considered, tends to de- 
press the mind, filling it with ingenuous shame and 
wholesome sorrow ; and to these humiliating feelings, 
solitude might perhaps be found congenial : but the sen- 
timents of admiration, love, and joy, swell the bosom 
with emotions which seek for fellowship and commu- 
nication. The flame indeed may be kindled by silent 
musing ; but when kindled it must infallibly spread. 
The devout heart, penetrated with large and affecting 
views of the immensity of the works of God, the har- 
mony of his laws, and the extent of his beneficence, 
bursts into loud and vocal expressions of praise and 
adoration ; and, from a full and overflowing sensibili- 
ty, seeks to expand itself to the utmost limits of crea- 
tion. The mind is forcibly carried out of itself; and, 
embracing the whole circle of animated existence, 
calls on all above, around, below, to help to bear the 
burden of its gratitude. Joy is too brilliant a thing to 
be confined within our own bosoms ; it burnishes all 
nature, and with its vivid colouring gives a kind of 
factitious life to objects without sense or motion. 
There cannot be a more striking proof of the social 
tendency of these feelings, than the strong propensity 
we have to suppose auditors where there are none. 
When men are wanting, we address the animal crea- 
tion ; and, rather than have none to partake our sen- 
timents, we find sentiment in the music of the birds, 
the hum of insects, and the low of kine : nay, we call 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 293 

on rocks and streams and forests to witness and share 
our emotions. Hence the Royal Shepherd, sojourn- 
ing in caves and solitary wastes, calls on the hills to 
rejoice and the floods to clap their hands ; and the 
lonely poet, wandering in the deep recesses of uncul- 
tivated nature, finds a temple in every solemn grove, 
and swells his chorus of praise with the winds that 
bow the lofty cedars. And can he who, not satisfied 
with the wide range of existence, calls for the sympa- 
thy of the inanimate creation, refuse to worship with 
his fellow-men ? Can he who bids " Nature attend," 
forget to "join every living soul" in the universal 
hymn ? Shall we suppose companions in the stillness 
of deserts, and shall we overlook them amongst friends 
and townsmen ? It cannot be ! Social worship, for the 
devout heart, is not more a duty than it is a real 
want. 

If Public Worship is thus found to be agreeable to 
the best impulses of our nature, the pious mind will 
rejoice to find it, at least not discountenanced by re- 
vealed religion. But its friends, in endeavouring to 
prove this, must carry on the argument under some 
disadvantage, as Mr. Wakefield, though he lays great 
stress on the presumptive arguments which seem to 
favour the negative side of the question, will not allow 
the same force to those which may be urged on the 
other side. The practice of Christ, he tells us, is an 
authority to which all believers will bow the knee, a 
tribunal by which all our controversies must be award- 
ed : yet he gives us notice at the same time, that to 
this authority, if brought against him, he will not bow 
the knee ; and from this tribunal, if unfriendly to his 
cause, he will appeal ; for that prayers and all exter- 
nal observances are beggarly elements, to be laid 
aside in the present maturity of the christian church ; 
and that, even if social wwship were an original ap- 
25* 



294 REMARKS ON 

pendage of the Gospel, the idea of a " progressive 
Christianity" would justify us in rejecting it. With 
this inequality of conditions, which it is sufficient just 
to notice, let us consider the array of texts which are 
drawn up against the practice in question ; and par- 
ticularly those precepts which, Mr. Wakefield says, 
are evidences that directly and literally prove public 
worship to be unauthorized by Christianity, and incon- 
sistent with it, and which he distinguishes from those 
which condemn it merely by inference. 

The first of these direct evidences is the injunction, 
not to worship as the hypocrites, who are fond of ex- 
hibiting in the most public places. " And when thou 
prayest, be not as the hypocrites, for they love to pray 
standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the 
streets, that they may be seen of men ; verily I say 
unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when 
thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou 
hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in se- 
cret." But is it not evident, that the force of this 
precept is not aimed against public prayer, but against 
private prayer performed in public ; against the os- 
tentatious display which seeks to distinguish us from 
others, not the genuine sympathy which makes us 
desirous of blending our feelings with theirs ? It was 
devotion obtruding itself in the face of business, amidst 
the show and bustle of the world. It did not seek 
for fellowship, but observation. It did not want 
the concurrence of men, but to be seen by them. 
Even in the synagogue it was silent, solitary, unsocial, 
and with sullen reserve and cold disdain kept itself 
aloof from communion, and invited only applause. 
The Pharisee and the Publican both went up to the 
temple to worship, but they worshipped not together. 
Certainly the delicate and modest nature of sincere 
piety must shrink from an exhibition like this ; and 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 295 

would not wish to have its feelings noticed, but where- 
at the same time they may be shared. This text 
therefore seems to be only a caution respecting the 
proper performance of our closet duties. 

"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the 
hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, 
nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the 
hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers 
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the 
Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a 
spirit." True it is, the hour is come in which it is 
allowed by all rational believers, that the aceeptable- 
ness of prayer does not depend on the sacredness of 
any particular place. The Jews wanted to be inform- 
ed of this. They, naturally enough, were apt to con- 
sider their temple as the habitation of the Divine 
Being, in the same manner as a palace is the habita- 
tion of an earthly sovereign, — a place where men may 
come to make their court, and bring presents, and ask 
favours in return. These ideas have been done away 
by those more honourable notions of the Divine Being 
which our Saviour, and good men after him have la- 
boured to inculcate. We conceive of a church as of 
a building, not for God to reside, but for men to as- 
semble in ; for, though God is a spirit, men have 
bodies, and they cannot meet to do any thing without 
having some place to do it in. " Neither in this 
mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem," means therefore ex- 
clusively, with an idea of any peculiar sacredness, or 
superstitious preference to any other structure which 
might be equally commodious. 

With regard to the character of our Saviour him- 
self, it is certain he did not always call upon his dis- 
ciples to share that more intimate, and, if I may say 
so, confidential intercourse with his heavenly Father, 
which he may be supposed to have been favoured 



296 REMARKS ON 

with ; and it must be confessed, there is no formal 
mention made of any exercises of this kind either 
with them, or with the people at large. But his 
whole life was a prayer. He, who in his most fa- 
miliar and convivial moments was raising the thoughts 
of his hearers to God, and nourishing their piety by 
occasional instruction, could not be supposed to leave 
them disinclined to the intercourses of social piety. 
The beautiful commendatory prayer which he offered 
up when about to leave the world, though it was not 
entirely of the nature of social prayer, as his disciples 
did not join in it, yet, its being uttered in their pre- 
sence, and their being the object of it, seems to place 
it nearly on the same ground. In the very miracle of 
the loaves, which Mr. Wakefield has produced as an 
instance of an incident which might have given rise to 
public prayer, and which was suffered to pass without 
it — in the account of this very miracle there is a di- 
rect precedent for the practice in question ; for, look- 
ing up to heaven, " he blessed" before he brake the 
bread. This, indeed, appears to have been his con- 
stant practice. It certainly does not belong to private 
devotion, and is a species of prayer more apt, per- 
haps, than any other, to degenerate into a mere form. 
But if we do not find public worship, properly so 
called, in the life of our Saviour, it is because we look 
for it in the wrong place. It is not to be sought for 
in his instructions, either to the multitude at large, or 
to his disciples in their more private conversations. 
His public worship was paid where the rest of the 
Jews paid theirs 1 — in the Temple. He came up, 
with the concourse of assembled multitudes, to the 
appointed religious festivals ; he ate the passover, and 
associated with his fellow-citizens, even in those rites 
and that form of worship which he knew was so soon 
to be abolished. 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, Sic. 297 

Our Lord seems indeed to have been an early and 
regular frequenter of whatever public worship the 
Jews had among them. What this was, besides their 
sacrifices and ceremonial observances, Mr. Wakefield 
is infinitely better able than the author of these re- 
marks to collect from the volumes of Rabbinical 
learning ; but, without going deeper into their anti- 
quities than what may gathered from those records of 
their history which are in the hands of every one, it 
may be seen that verbal addresses to the Divine Be- 
ing often accompanied the public expressions of their 
thanksgiving. In their earliest times we have the 
song of Moses, in the burden of which the whole peo- 
ple, led by Miriam, joined in chorus. In a mere 
polished age, the fine prayer of Solomon at the dedi- 
cation of the Temple, a composition which has never 
been excelled, comes yet nearer to our ideas of an 
address to the Divine Being ; and the whole people 
bore a part in the worship by the response, " For he 
is good, for his mercy endureth for ever." A still 
more regular service is recorded by Nehemiah, when 
the people, after their return from the captivity, en- 
tered into that solemn renewal of their law described 
w 7 ith so much affecting solemnity. They stood and 
confessed their sins, then they read the law ; after 
which the Levites called upon them to stand up and 
bless the Lord their God. They stood up accord- 
ingly, and joined in what, I suppose, the author of the 
Enquiry would call a pretty long prayer. And when 
Ezra blessed the Lord, the people answered, Amen, 
Amen. All this is sufficiently similar not only to the 
spirit, but to the very routine of our present modes of 
worship. If it be said, that these instances all arose 
from peculiar and striking occasions, it may be an- 
swered, that it is not likely any other would be re- 
corded ; and that the regularity and grace with which 



298 REMARKS ON 

they seem to have been performed, indicate a people 
not unaccustomed to such exercises. Indeed the 
Psalms of David afford every variety which any of 
our prayers do ; confession, ascription, thanksgiving, 
&lc. These, it should seem, were many of them set 
to music, and sung with proper responses ; for even 
in the Temple, the chief business of which w T as not 
prayer but sacrifice, the Levites and other singers, at 
the time of the morning and evening sacrifice, sung 
psalms of praise to God before the altar, and in the 
conclusion the priests blessed the people*. And it is 
not probable, that in a later period of their history, 
amidst a greater degree of refinement and cultivation, 
they should have contented themselves with mere 
ritual observances. This at least is evident, if in the 
time of our Saviour they had no worship similar 
to ours, he could not mean by any thing he said to 
hint a dislike of it ; and if they had, he must have 
sanctioned the practice by conforming to it. But in- 
deed it is acknowledged by most, and Mr. Wakefield 
seems to admit, that after their return from the Baby- 
lonish captivity, when their hearts were purified by 
adversity and more attached to their religion, they 
had regular and stated worship in their synagogues, 
consisting of forms of prayer, reading the Scriptures, 
and expounding. In the former, we are told, a minis- 
ter, called from his office the angel or messenger of 
the church, officiated as the mouth of the congrega- 
tion ; but for the latter part of the service it was usual 
to call upon any stranger to take his share, who appear- 
ed to be sufficiently qualified to read and expound 
the lessons of the day. And hence probably it was, 
that our Saviour did not pray in the synagogues, 
though he often taught there, and interpreted the 
Scripturesf . Of their forms of prayer eighteen are 

* See Prideaux's Connection, vol. ii. p. 528, f Ibid; p. 538 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 299 

given, held to be of high antiquity and peculiar sacred- 
ness ; and these are in a strain not dissimilar to the 
Liturgies of more modern times. In short, if we 
trace the accounts given us both of the plan of the 
service, and of its presbyters, ministers, and deacons, 
it will be found, that the christian church, in its cor- 
responding officers, its collects, litanies, and exposi- 
tions, is the legitimate daughter of the Jewish syna- 
gogue ; and we shall be led to admire the singular 
fate of a nation, decreed to be at once imitated and 
despised. 

Thus much may be sufficient to say upon a sub- 
ject which, after all, is purely a question of historical 
curiosity. 

To return to the character of our Saviour. His 
great business in the world was instruction ; and this 
he dispensed, not in a systematic, but a popular man- 
ner ; nor yet in a vague and declamatory style, but in 
a pointed and appropriated one ; not where it would 
most shine, but where it was most wanted. He was 
the great reformer, the innovator of his day ; and the 
strain of his energetic eloquence was strongly pointed 
against abuses of all kinds, and precisely those points 
of duty were most insisted on which he found most 
neglected. Almost all his discourses are levelled 
against some prevailing vice of the times, some fash- 
ionable worldly maxim, some artful gloss of a well 
known precept, some evasion of an acknowledged 
duty. They were delivered as occasion prompted, 
and therefore it was that they came so home to men's 
business and bosoms ; for he might have delivered 
the most elaborate lectures on morality, and religion 
too, without offending the Scribes and Pharisees, if he 
had confined himself to system, and not attacked cor- 
ruption. We shall therefore meet with continual dis- 
appointment if, in the few scattered discourses, most 



300 REMARKS ON 

of them too conversations, which are preserved to us 
of our Saviour, we expect to find any thing like a 
regular code of laws, and still less a formulary of 
rules. He referred to known laws, and only endeav- 
oured to restore the spirit of them, and to exalt the 
motive of obedience. The great duty of honouring 
our parents had probably not found a place in his in- 
structions, but to expose the tradition which had made 
it of none effect. It is therefore a very inconclusive 
argument against a practice, either, that we are not 
expressly enjoined it in the Gospel, or that the abuses 
of it are strongly dwelt upon ; and this may serve for 
a general answer to Mr. Wakefield's objections built 
upon the animated denunciations against those who, 
for a pretence, make long prayers, and who cry, 
"Lord, Lord" — against vain repetitions — upon the 
exhortations to worship in spirit and in truth — the de- 
claration that the Sabbath is made for man, and not 
man for the Sabbath — with a thousand others in the 
same strain, with which the Gospel undoubtedly 
abounds. But is the utility of a practice destroyed 
by the abuse of it ; or is it of none, because it is not 
of the chief value ? Are none of our duties subordi- 
nate, yet real ? or have they all the proud motto. Ant 
Ccesar, aut nullus. — As to the idea of a " progressive 
Christianity," on which the author of the Enquiry 
lays so much stress, as no new revelation has been 
pretended subsequent to its original promulgation, it is 
difficult to conceive of any progress in it, distinct from 
the progress of reason and civilization in the different 
countries where it may be received. Now I do not 
know what right we have to suppose that the Jews in 
the time of our Saviour, were so gross in their ideas 
as to require a mode of worship which deserves to be 
stigmatized with the appellation of " beggarly elements 
and the twilight of superstition." They were proba- 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 301 

bly as different from their countrymen in the time of 
the Judges, as we are from our ancestors of the Saxon 
heptarchy. They had long had among them most of 
those causes which tend to develope the mental pow- 
ers. A system of laws and polity, writers of the most 
distinguished excellence, commercial and political in- 
tercourse with other nations ; they had acute and 
subtle disputants, and an acquaintance with different 
sects of philosophy ; and, under these circumstances, 
it is probable that most of those questions would be 
agitated which, at similar periods, have exercised and 
perplexed the human faculties. Be that as it may, 
Mr. Wakefield, by considering public worship as a 
practice to be adapted to the exigencies of the times, 
evidently abandons the textual ground, in which nar- 
row path he seemed hitherto to have trod with such 
scrupulous precaution, and places it on the broader 
footing of utility. The utility of this practice there- 
fore comes next to be considered. 

It is an error, which is extremely incident to minds 
of a delicate and anxious sensibility, to suppose that 
practices do no good which do not all the good that 
might be expected from them. Let those who, in a 
desponding mood, are apt to think thus of public wor- 
ship, calculate, if they can, what would be the conse- 
quence if it were laid aside. Perhaps it is not easy 
to estimate how much of the manners as well as the 
morals — how much of the cultivation as well as the 
religion of a people is derived from this very source. 
If a legislator or philosopher were to undertake the 
civilization of a horde of wild savages, scattered along 
the waste in the drear loneliness of individual exist- 
ence, and averse to the faces of each other— if he 
had formed a plan to gather them together, and give 
them a principle of cohesion ; he probably could not 
take a more effectual method than by persuading 

vol. ii. 26 



302 REMARKS ON 

them to meet together in one place — at regular and 
stated times — and there to join together in a common 
act, imposing from its solemnity and endearing from 
the social nature of its exercises. If an adventurer 
were stranded on some foreign shore, and should find 
the inhabitants engaged in such an act, he might draw 
the conclusion, that the blessings of order, internal 
peace, mutual confidence, and a considerable degree 
of information, existed there, as surely as the philoso- 
pher drew a similar inference from the discovery of 
mathematical diagrams traced upon the sand. And 
thus, in fact, it was, that in the early beginnings of 
society, legislators called in the assistance of religious 
ideas, and with the charm and melody of solemn 
hymns, like those of Orpheus or of Linus, gathered 
round them the stupid, incurious barbarians, roused 
them to attention and softened them into docility. 
Agreeably to this train of thinking, our great dramatic 
moralist places the influences of social worship upon a 
par with the sacred touches of sympathetic sorrow, 
and the exhilarating pleasures of the hospitable board, 
and makes it one of the features which distinguish the 
urbanity of polished life from the rude and unfeeling 
ferocity which belongs to a clan of unprincipled ban- 
ditti. 

If ever you have looked on better days, 

If ever been where bells have knolled to church, 

If ever sate at any good man's feast, 

If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear, 

And known what 't is to pity and be pitied j 

Let gentleness your strong enforcement be 

For, independent of the peculiar object of public 
religious assemblies, many collateral advantages are 
derived from them which the liberal thinker will by 
no means despise. The recurrence of appointed 
days of rest and leisure, which, but for this purpose, 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 303 

would never have been appointed, divides the weary- 
months of labour and servitude with a separating line 
of a brighter colour. The church is a centre of union 
for neighbours, friends, and townsmen ; and it is a rea- 
sonable and a pleasing ground of preference in our 
attachments, that we have " walked to the house of 
God in company." Even the common greetings that 
pass between those who meet there, are hallowed by 
the occasion of the meeting, and the spirit of civic 
urbanity is mingled with a still sweeter infusion of 
christian courtesy. By the recurrence of this inter- 
course, feuds and animosities are composed, which 
interrupted the harmony of friends and acquaintance : 
and those who avoided to meet because they could 
not forgive, are led to forgive, being obliged to meek 
Its effect in humanizing the lower orders of society, 
and fashioning their manners to the order and deco- 
rum of civil life, is apparent to every reflecting mind. 
The poor who have not formed a habit of attending 
here, remain from week to week in their sordid cells, 
or issue thence to places of licentiousness more sordid ; 
while those who assemble with the other inhabitants 
of the place, are brought into the frequent view of 
their superiors ; their persons are known, their ap- 
pearance noted ; the inquiring eye of benevolence 
pursues them to their humble cottages, and they are 
not unfrequently led home from social worship to the 
social meal. If the rich and poor were but thus 
brought together regularly and universally, that single 
circumstance would be found sufficient to remove the 
squalidness of misery, and the bitterness of want ; and 
poverty would exist only as a sober shade in the pic- 
ture of life, on which the benevolent eye might rest 
with a degree of complacency when fatigued with the 
more gaudy colouring of luxury and show. 



304 REMARKS GIST 

The good effect of public worship in this light is 
remarkably conspicuous in the Sunday schools. Ma- 
ny of the children who attend have probably not very 
clearly comprehended any religious system ; but the 
moving and acting under the public eye, together with 
a sense of duty and moral obligation, which, how T ever 
obscure, always accompanies the exercises of religion, 
soon transforms them into a different kind of beings. 
They acquire a love of neatness and regularity ; a 
sense of propriety insinuates itself into their young 
minds, and produces, instead of the sullen and un- 
tamed licentiousness which at once shuns and hates 
the restraints^* better life, the modest deference and 
chastened demeanour of those who respect others be- 
cause they respect themselves. 

Public worship conveys a great deal of instruction 
in an indirect manner. Even those didactic prayers 
which run out into the enumeration of the attributes 
of the Divine Being, and of the duties of a virtuous 
life, though, perhaps, not strictly proper as prayer, 
have their use in storing the minds of the generality 
with ideas on these important subjects ; and the beau- 
ty and sublimity of many of these compositions must 
operate powerfully in lifting the heart to God, and in- 
spiring it with a love of virtue. Improper as public 
prayers may have sometimes been, private prayers 
are likely to be still more so. Whatever contempt 
Mr. Wakefield may choose to throw on the official 
abilities of those who lead the service, it will not be 
denied that they are generally better informed than 
those who follow. Men to wdiom spiritual ideas are 
familiar from reading and study, do not sufficiently 
appreciate the advantage which the illiterate enjoy by 
the fellowship and communication of superior minds, 
who are qualified to lead their ideas in the right 
track. 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 305 

Public worship is a means of invigorating faith. 
Though argument be one means of generating belief, 
and that on which all belief must ultimately rest, it is 
not the only means, nor, with many minds, the most 
efficacious. Practical faith is greatly assisted by 
joining in some act in which the presence and per- 
suasion of others give a sort of reality to our percep- 
tion of invisible things. . The metaphysical reasoner, 
entangled in the nets of sophistry, may involve him- 
self in the intricacies of contradictory syllogisms till 
reason grows giddy, and scarcely able to hold the 
balance ; but when he acts in presence of his fellow- 
creatures, his mind resumes its tone and vigour, and 
social devotion gives a colour and body to the deduc- 
tions of his reason. Berkeley, probably, never doubt- 
ed of the existence of the material world when he 
had quitted his closet. Some minds are not capable 
of that firmness of decision which embraces truth upon 
a bare preponderancy of argument — some, through a 
timorous and melancholy spirit, remain always in a 
perplexed and doubting state, if they rest merely on 
the conclusions built upon their own investigation. 
But every act in consequence of our faith, strengthens 
faith. These, when they enter a place of worship, 
amidst all the animating accompaniments of social 
homage, are seized with a happy contagion ; slow 
hesitating doubts vanish in a moment, and give way 
to sincere and cordial feeling. These are not proofs, 
it is true ; but they are helps, adapted to our nature, 
necessary to the generality, expedient for all. As 
for the multitude, so unaccustomed are they to any 
process of abstruse reasoning, and so much do they 
require the assistance of some object within the grasp 
of their senses, that it is to be doubted whether they 
could be at all persuaded of the existence of a spiritual 
invisible power, if that existence was not statedly ac« 
26* 



306 REMARKS ON 

knowledged by some act which should impress the 
reality of it upon their minds, by connecting it with 
places, persons, and times. 

Let it be observed, in the next place, that Public 
Worship is a civic meeting. The temple is the only 
place where human beings, of every rank and sex and 
age, meet together for one common purpose, and join 
together in one common act. Other meetings are 
either political, or formed for the purposes of splen- 
dour and amusement ; from both which, in this coun- 
try, the bulk of inhabitants are of necessity excluded. 
This is the only place, to enter which nothing more is 
necessary than to be of the same species ; — the only 
place where man meets man not only as an equal but 
a brother ; and where, by contemplating his duties, 
he may become sensible of his rights. So high and 
haughty is the spirit of aristocracy, and such the in- 
creasing pride of the privileged classes, that it is to 
be feared, if men did not attend at the same place 
here, it would hardly be believed they were meant to 
go to the same place hereafter. It is of service to 
the cause of freedom therefore, no less than to that 
of virtue, that there is one place where the invidious 
distinctions of wealth and titles are not admitted ; 
where all are equal, not by making the low, proud ; 
but by making the great, humble. How many a man 
exists who possesses not the smallest property in this 
earth, of which you call him lord ; who, from the nar- 
rowing spirit of property, is circumscribed and hem- 
med in by the possessions of his more opulent neigh- 
bours, till there is scarcely an unoccupied spot of 
verdure on which he can set his foot to admire the 
beauties of nature, or barren mountain on which he 
can draw the fresh air without a trespass. The en- 
joyments of life are for others, the labours of it for 
him. He hears those of his class spoken of, collec- 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 307 

lively, as of machines, which are to be kept in repair 
indeed, but of which the sole use is to raise the hap- 
piness of the higher orders. Where, but in the tem- 
ples of religion, shall he learn that he is of the same 
species ? He hears there (and were it for the first 
time, it would be with infinite astonishment,) that all 
are considered as alike ignorant and to be instructed ; 
all alike sinful, and needing forgiveness ; all alike 
bound by the same obligations, and animated by the 
same hopes. In the intercourses of the world the 
poor man is seen, but not noticed ; he may be in the 
presence of his superiours, but he cannot be in their 
company. In every other place it would be pre- 
sumption in him to let his voice be heard along with 
theirs ; here alone they are both raised together, and 
blended in the full chorus of praise. In every other 
place it would be an offence to be near them, without 
showing in his attitudes and deportment the conscious 
marks of inferiority ; here only he sees the prostra- 
tions of the rich as low as his, and hears them both 
addressed together in the majestic simplicity of a lan- 
guage that knows no adulation. Here the poor man 
learns that, in spite of the distinctions of rank, and the 
apparent inferiority of his condition, all the true goods 
of life, all that men dare petition for when in the pre- 
sence of their Maker — a sound mind, a healthful 
body, and daily bread, — lie within the scope of his 
own hopes and endeavours ; and that in the large in- 
heritance to come, his expectations are no less ample 
than theirs. He rises from his knees, and feels him- 
self a man. He learns philosophy without its pride, 
and a spirit of liberty without its turbulence. Every 
time Social Worship is celebrated, it includes a virtual 
declaration of the rights of man. 

It may be further observed, that the regular ser- 
vices of the church are to us the more necessary, as 



308 REMARKS ON 

we have laid aside many of those modes and expres- 
sions which gave a tincture of religion to our social 
intercourse and domestic manners. The regard to 
particular days and seasons is nearly worn off. The 
forms of epistolary correspondence, and the friendly 
salutations which, in the last century, breathed a spirit 
of affectionate piety, are exchanged for the degrading 
ceremonial of unmeaning servility. The " God be 
with you," " God bless you," " If God permit," 
" Heaven have you in its keeping," — like the grace- 
ful Salam,) or salutation of peace among the eastern 
nations, kept up in the mind a sense of the surround- 
ing providence of the Divine Being, and might, in 
some measure, supersede the necessity of more for- 
mal addresses ; whereas, in the present state of so- 
ciety, a stranger might pass day after day, and week- 
after week, in the bosom of a christian country, with- 
out suspecting the faith of its inhabitants (if public 
worship were laid aside) from any circumstance, un- 
less it were the obscure, half-pronounced blessing, 
which is still sometimes murmured over the table. 

Let it therefore be considered, when the length and 
abstracted nature of our public prayers is objected to, 
that we have nothing to take their place. If our at- 
tention was excited by processions, garlands, altars, 
and sacrifices, and every action of our lives intermix- 
ed with some religious rite, these expressions of our 
homage might be more readily dispensed with 5 but, 
in reality, tedious as Mr. Wakefield may think long 
prayers, they suit better with the gravity of the na- 
tional disposition and the philosophic turn of our ideas, 
than any substitute which could be suggested by the 
most classic taste. Our prayers are become long, 
because our ceremonies are short. 

If we may suppose these views of the subject to 
have established the general utility of public worship, 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 309 

a question still arises, Is the obligation to it universal ? 
Is attendance on its exercises to be expected from 
those whose own minds are temples more hallowed 
than any they can enter ; and whose knowledge and 
cultivation render it probable, that in every popular 
service they will meet with much to object to, and 
little to interest a taste rendered fastidious by critical 
accuracy and elegant refinement ? Without presum- 
ing to condemn the conduct of those who are in every 
respect so competent to form their own plans accord- 
ing to their own judgement, I would mention some 
considerations which, even to them, may present it in . 
a light not unworthy their attention. It is, in the first 
place, an act of homage, and as such equally incum- 
bent on all. It is a profession of faith, less dubious 
even than the performance of moral duties, which 
may proceed from a well-directed prudence, or the 
harmony of a happy temperament. It is right and 
proper that Religion should have the honour of those 
who are calculated to do her honour. It is likewise 
useful for a pious man to be connected with pious 
people as such. Various associations are formed up- 
on the ground of something which men wish to im- 
prove or to enjoy in common. Literary men asso- 
ciate, musical men associate, political men associate 
together ; and as there is a great deal of the com- 
merce of the world in which it would be impossible 
to introduce religion, there ought by w T ay of balance 
to be some society of which that is the ground and 
principle ; otherwise, from the very nature of our 
connexions with each other, we shall find religion less 
in our thoughts than almost any thing else in which 
we have an interest, and insensibly it will waste and 
die away for mere want of aliment. But the attend- 
ance of men of literature and knowledge is perhaps 
most important from its effect upon others. The un- 



810 REMARKS ON 

enlightened worship with most pleasure where those 
worship whose opinions they respect. A religion that 
is left for the vulgar will not long satisfy even them. 
There is harshness in saying to the bulk of mankind, 
" Stand aside, we are wiser than you." There is 
harshness in saying, " Our affections cannot move in 
concert ; what edifies you, disgusts us ; we cannot 
feel in common, even where we have a common in- 
terest." In the intercourses of life, the man of ur- 
banity makes a thousand sacrifices to the conciliating 
spirit of courtesy and the science of attentions. The 
exercises of devotion, Mr. Wakefield says, are weari- 
some. Suppose they were so ; how many meetings 
do we frequent, to how many conversations do we 
listen with benevolent attention, where our own pleas- 
ure and our own improvement are not the objects to 
which our time is given up ? He who knows much 
must expect to be often present where he can learn 
nothing. While others are receiving information, he 
is practising a virtue. He, who in common life has 
learned to mix a regard to the feelings and opinions 
of others with the pursuit of his own gratifications, 
will bear, in the spirit of love and charity, the instruc- 
tion which to him is unnecessary, the amplification 
which to him is tiresome, the deficiencies of method 
or of elocution, to which his ear and his judgement 
are acutely sensible ; the imperfections, in short, of 
men or of societies inferior to himself in taste or know- 
ledge ; — as in conversation he bears with the commu- 
nicative overflowings of self-importance, the repetition 
of the well-known tale, and the recurrence of the 
numerous, burthensome forms of civilized society. 

It becomes us well to consider what would be the 
consequence, if the desertion of men of superior sense 
should become general in our assemblies. Not the 
abolition of public worship, — it is a practice too deeply 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 311 

rooted in the very propensities of our nature ; but this 
would be the consequence, that it would be thrown 
into the hands of professional men on the one hand, 
and of uninformed men on the other. By the one 
it would be corrupted ; it would be debased by the 
other. Let the friends of moderation and good sense 
consider whether it is desirable, whether it is even 
safe, to withdraw from the public the powerful influ- 
ence of their taste, knowledge, and liberality. Let 
them consider whether they are prepared to take the 
consequences of trusting in the hands of any clergy, so 
powerful an engine as that of public worship and in- 
struction, without the salutary check of their presence 
who are best able to distinguish truth from falsehood, 
to detect unwarrantable pretensions, and to keep with- 
in tolerable bounds the wanderings of fanaticism. 
Attentive to the signs of the times, they will have 
remarked, on the one hand, a disposition to give into 
deception, greater than might naturally have been 
presumed of this age, which we compliment with the 
epithet of enlightened. Empiric extravagancies have 
been adopted, which violate every sober and consist- 
ent idea of the laws of nature, and new sects have 
sprung up, distinguished b^ the wildest reveries of 
visionary credulity. On the other, they will have ob- 
served indications of a desire to discourage the free- 
dom of investigation, to thicken the veil of mystery, 
and to revive every obsolete pretension of priestly 
power, which, in the most ignorant periods, the haugh- 
tiest churchman has ever dared to assume. They 
will have read with astonishment, an official exhorta- 
tion to the inferior clergy — it was not fulminated from 
the Vatican, it was not dragged to light from the 
mould and rust of remote ages — It was delivered by 
an English divine of the eighteenth century, brilliant 
in parts and high in place : he knew it was to meet 



312 REMARKS ON 

the notice and encounter the criticism of an enlighten- 
ed and philosophic people, and he has not scrupled 
to tell them — that good works of a heretic are sin ; 
and that such a one may go to hell with his load of 
moral merit on his back. He has not scrupled to 
rank the first philosopher of this kingdom, and the man 
in it perhaps of all others most actively solicitous for 
the spread of what he at least believes to be genuine 
Christianity, with infidels and athiets ; and thus, by 
obvious inference has piously consigned him to the 
same doom. He has revived claims and opinions 
which have upon their heads w 7 hole centuries of obliv- 
ion and contempt ; and by slandering Morality, has 
thought to exalt Religion. — Reflecting on these things, 
they will consider whether the man of judgement does 
not desert the post assigned him by Providence, wiien 
he withdraws from popular assemblies both the coun- 
tenance of his example and the imposing awe of his 
presence ; they will conceive themselves as invested 
with the high commission to take care nequid res- 
publico, detrimenti capiat ; they will consider them- 
selves as the salt of the earth, the leaven of the lump, 
not to be secluded in separate parcels, but to be min- 
gled in the whole mass, diffusing through it their own 
spirit and savour. 

The author of the Enquiry chooses to expatiate,- — 
it is not difficult to do it, — on the discordant variety of 
the different modes of worship practised amonst men, 
and concludes it with characterizing this alarming 
schism by the comparison of the poet : 

One likes the pheasant's wing, and one the leg ; 
The vulgar boil, the learned roast an egg. 

But might we not venture to ask, — Where, pray, 
is the harm of all this ? unless indeed I will not allow 
my neighbour to boil his egg because I roast mine. 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 313 

Eggs are good and nutritious food either way ; and 
in the manner of dressing them, fancy and taste, nay 
caprice, if you will, may fairly be consulted. If I 
prefer the leg of a pheasant, and my neighbour finds 
it dry, let each take what he likes. It would be a 
conclusion singularly absurd, that eggs and pheasants 
were not to be eaten. All the harm is in having but 
one table for guests of every description ; and yet 
even there, were I at a public ordinary, good in other 
respects, I would rather conform my taste in some 
measure to that of my neighbour, than be reduced to 
the melancholy necessity of eating my morsel by my- 
self alone. 

The dissenters cannot be supposed to pass over in 
silence Mr. Wakefield's strictures upon the manner 
in which they have chosen to conduct their public and 
social worship. They are surprised and sorry to find 
themselves treated with such a mixture of bitterness 
and levity by a man whose abilities they respect, and 
whom they have shown themselves ready to embrace 
as a brother. They have their prejudices, they ac- 
knowledge — and he perhaps has his. Many forms 
and observances may to them be dear and venerable, 
through the force of early habit and association, which 
to a stranger in their Israel may appear uncouth, un- 
necessary, or even marked with a shade of ridicule. 
They pity Mr. Wakefield's peculiar and insulated sit- 
uation. Separating through the purest motives irom 
one church, he has not found another with which he 
is inclined to associate ; divided by difference of opin- 
ions from one class of christians, and by dissonance of 
taste from another, he finds the transition too violent 
from the college to the conventicle : he worships alone 
because he stands alone ; and is, naturally perhaps, 
led to undervalue that fellowship which has been lost 
to him between his early predilections and his later 

vol. ii. 27 



314 REMARKS ON 

opinions. If, however, the dissenters are not so hap- 
py as to gain his affection, they must be allowed to 
urge their claims upon his esteem. They wish him 
to reflect, that neither his classical knowledge, nor his 
critical acumen, nor his acknowledged talents, set him 
so high in the esteem of good men, as that integrity 
which he possesses in common with those whom he 
despises ; they believe further consideration would 
suggest to him, that it were more candid to pass over 
those peculiarities which have originated in a delicate 
conscience and the fervour of devotion ; and they can- 
not help asking, Whether they had reason to expect 
the severity of-sarcastic ridicule from him, whose best 
praise it is that he has imitated their virtues and shared 
their sacrifices ? 

The dissenters, however, do not make it their boast 
that they have nothing to reform. They have, per- 
haps, always been more conspicuous for principle than 
for taste ; their practices are founded upon a preva- 
ence of religious fervour, an animation and warmth of 
piety, which, if it no longer exists, it is vain to simu- 
late. But what they do make their boast is, that they 
acknowledge no principle which forbids them to re- 
form ; that they have no leave to ask of bishops, 
synods, or parliaments, in order to lay aside forms 
which have become vapid. They are open to con- 
viction ; they are ready to receive with thankfulness 
every sober and liberal remark which may assist them 
to improve their religious addresses, and model them 
to the temper of the public mind. But, with regard 
to those practices of superabundant devotion, which 
have drawn down upon them the indignation of the 
critic, it is the opinion of those who best know the 
dissenters of the present day, that they might have 
been suffered to fall quietly of themselves : they are 
supported by no authority, defrayed by no impost. 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 315 

if they make long prayers, it is at the expense only of 
their own breath and spirits ; no widows' houses 
are devoured by it. If the present generation yawn 
and slumber over the exercises which their fathers 
attended with pious alacrity, the sons will of course 
learn to shorten them. If the disposition of their 
public services wants animation, as perhaps it does, 
the silent pews will be deserted one by one, and 
they will be obliged to seek some other mode of 
engaging the attention of their audience. But modes 
and forms affect not the essence of public worship ; 
that may be performed with a form or without one ; 
by words alone, or by symbolical expressions, com- 
bined with or separated from instruction ; with or 
without the assistance of a particular order appointed 
to officiate in leading the devotions : it may be cele- 
brated one day in seven, or in eight, or in ten. In 
many of these particulars a certain deference should 
be had to the sentiments of that society with which, 
upon the whole, we think it best to connect ourselves ; 
and, as times and manners change, these circumstances 
will vary ; but the root of the practice is too strongly 
interwoven with the texture of the human frame ever 
to be abandoned. While man has wants, he will pray : 
while he is sensible of blessings, he will offer praise ; 
while he has common wants and common blessings, 
he will pray and praise in company with his fellows ; 
and while he feels himself a social being, he will not 
be persuaded to lay aside social worship. 

It must, however, be acknowledged, that, in order 
to give public worship all the grace and efficacy of 
which it is susceptible, much alteration is necessary. 
It is necessary here, as in every other concern, that 
timely reformation should prevent neglect. Much 
might be done by judgement, taste, and a devotional 
spirit united, to improve the plan of our religious as- 



316 REMARKS ON 

semblies. Should a genius arise amongst us, qualified 
for such a task, and in circumstances favourable to 
his being listened to, he would probably remark, first, 
on the construction of our churches, so ill adapted are 
a great part of them to the purposes either of hearing 
or seeing. He would reprobate those little gloomy 
solitary cells, planned by the spirit of aristocracy, 
which deform the building no less to the eye of taste 
than to the eye of benevolence, and, insulating each 
family within its separate inclosure, favour at once the 
pride of rank and the laziness of indulgence. He 
might choose for these structures something of the 
amphitheatrical form, where the minister, on a raised 
platform, should be beheld with ease by the whole 
wave of people, at once bending together in deep hu- 
miliation, or spreading forth their hands in the earnest- 
ness of petition. It would certainly be found desira- 
ble that the people should themselves have a large 
share in the performance of the service, as the inter- 
mixture of their voices would both introduce more 
variety and greater animation ; provided pains were 
taken by proper teaching to enable them to bear their 
part with a decorum and propriety, w T hich, it must be 
confessed, we do not see at present amongst those 
whose public services possess the advantage of re- 
sponses. The explaining, and teaching them to recite, 
such hymns and collects as it might be thought proper 
they should bear a part in, w T ould form a pleasing and 
useful branch of the instruction of young people, and 
of the lower classes ; it would give them an interest in 
the public service, and might fill up agreeably a va- 
cant hour either on the Sunday or on some other lei- 
sure day, especially if they were likewise regularly 
instructed in singing for the same, purpose. As we 
have never seen, perhaps we can hardly conceive, 
the effect which the united voices of a whole congre- 



. 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 317 

gation, all in the lively expression of one feeling, 
would have upon the mind. We should then perceive 
not only that we were doing the same thing in the 
same place, but that we were doing it with one ac- 
cord. The deep silence of listening expectation, the 
burst of united praises, the solemn pauses that invite 
reflection, the varied- tones of humiliation, gratitude, 
or persuasion, would swell and melt the heart by 
turns ; nor would there be any reason to guard against 
the wandering eye, when every object it rested on 
must forcibly recall it to the duties of the place. — 
Possibly it might be found expedient to separate 
worship from instruction : the learned teacher from 
the leader of the public devotions, in whom voice, and 
popular talents, might perhaps be allowed to supersede 
a more deep and critical acquaintance with the doc- 
trines of theology. One consequence, at least, would 
follow such a separation, that instruction would be 
given more systematically. — Nothing, that is taught at 
all, is taught in so vague and desultory a manner as 
the doctrines of religion. A congregation may attend 
for years, even a good preacher, and never hear the 
evidences of either natural or revealed religion regu- 
larly explained to them ; they may attend for years, 
and never hear a connected system of moral duties ex- 
tending to the different situations and relations of life : 
they may attend for years, and not even gain any clear 
idea of the history and chronology of the Old and 
New Testament, which are read to them every Sun- 
day. They will hear abundance of excellent doc- 
trine, and will often feel their hearts warmed and their 
minds edified ; but their ideas upon these subjects will 
be confused and imperfect, because they are treated 
on in a manner so totally different from every thing 
else Which bears the name of instruction. This is 
probably owing, in a great measure, to the custom of 
27* 



31S REMARKS ON 

prefixing to every pulpit-discourse a sentence, taken 
indiscriminately from any part of the Scriptures, un- 
der the name of a text, which at first implying an 
exposition, was afterwards used to suggest a subject ; 
and is now, by degrees, dwindling into a motto. — 
Still, however, the custom subsists ; and while it 
serves to supersede a more methodical course of in- 
struction, tends to keep up in the minds of the generality 
of hearers a very superstitious idea, — not now enter- 
tained, it is to be presumed, by the generality of those 
who teach, — of the equal sacredness and importance 
of every part of so miscellaneous a collection. 

If these insulated discourses, of which each is com- 
plete in itself, and therefore can have but little com- 
pass, were digested into a regular plan of lectures, 
supported by a course of reading, to which the audi- 
ence might be directed, it would have the further 
advantage of rousing the inattentive and restraining 
the rambling hearer by the interest which would be 
created by such a connected series of information. 
They would occupy a larger space in the mind, they 
would more frequently be the subject of recollection 
and meditation ; there would be a fear of missing one 
link in such a chain of truths ; and the more intelligent 
part of a congregation might find a useful and interest- 
ing employment in assisting the teacher in the instruc- 
tion of those who were not able to comprehend 
instruction with the same facility as themselves. When 
such a course of instruction had been delivered, it 
w T ould not be expected that discourses, into which 
men of genius and learning had digested their best 
thoughts, should be thrown by, or brought fonvard 
again, as it were, by stealth ; but they would be regu- 
larly and avow r edly repeated at proper intervals. It is 
usual upon the continent for a set of sermons to be 
delivered in several churches, each of which has its 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 319 

officiating minister for the stated public worship ; and 
thus a whole district partakes the advantage of the 
labours of a man eminent for composition. Perhaps 
it might be desirable to join to religious information 
some instruction in the laws of our country, which 
are, or ought to be, founded upon morals; and which, 
by a strange solecism, are obligatory upon all, and 
scarcely promulgated, much less explained. — Many 
ideas will offer themselves to a thinking man, who 
wishes not to abolish, but to improve the public wor- 
ship of his country. These are only hints, offered 
with diffidence and respect, to those who are able to 
judge of and carry them into effect. 

Above all it would be desirable to separate from 
religion that idea of gloom which in this country has 
but too generally accompanied it. The fact cannot 
be denied ; the cause must be sought, partly in our 
national character, which, I am afraid, is not naturally 
either very cheerful or very social, and which we shall 
do well to meliorate by every possible attention to our 
habits of life ; — and partly to the colour of our reli- 
gious systems. No one who embraces the common 
idea of future torments, together with the doctrine of 
election and reprobation, the insufficiency of virtue to 
escape the wrath of God, and the strange absurdity 
which, it should seem, through similarity of sound 
alone, has been admitted as an axiom, that sins com- 
mitted against an infinite being do therefore deserve 
infinite punishment — no one, I will venture to assert, 
can believe such tenets, and have them often in his 
thoughts, and yet be cheerful. Whence a system has 
arisen so incompatible with that justice and benevo- 
lence, which, in the discourses of our Saviour, are 
represented as the most essential attributes of the 
Divine Being, is not easy to trace. It is probable, 
however, that power, being the most prominent fea- 



320 REMARKS ON 

ture ia our conceptions of the Creator, and that of 
which we see the most striking image here on earth, 
(their being a greater portion of uncontrolled power 
than of unmixed wisdom or goodness to be found 
amongst human beings), the Deity would naturally 
be likened to an absolute monarch ; — and most ab- 
solute monarchs having been tyrants, jealous of their 
sovereignty, averse to freedom of investigation, order- 
ing affairs, not with a view to the happiness of their 
subjects, but to the advancement of their own glory ; 
not to be approached but with rich gifts and offerings ; 
bestowing favours, not in proportion to merit, but 
from the pure influence of caprice and blind partiality ; 
to those who have offended them, severe and unfor- 
giving, except induced to pardon by the importunate 
intercession of some favourite ; confining their ene- 
mies, when they had overcome them, after a contest, 
in deep dark dungeons under ground, or putting them 
to death in the prolonged misery of excruciating tor- 
tures — these features of human depravity have been 
most faithfully transferred to the Supreme Being ; and 
men have imaged to themselves how a Nero or a 
Domitian would have acted, if from the extent of their 
dominion there had been no escape, and to the dura- 
tion of it no period. 

These ideas of the vulgar belief, terrible, but as 
yet vague and undefined, passed into the speculations 
of the schoolmen, by whom they were combined with 
the metaphysical idea of eternity, arranged in specific 
propositions, fixed in creeds, and elaborated .into sys- 
tems, till at length they have been sublimed into all 
the tremendous horrors of the Calvinistic faith. These 
doctrines, it is true, among thinking people are losing 
ground ; but there is still apparent, in that class called 
serious christians, a tenderness in exposing them ; a 
sort of leaning towards them, — as in walking over a 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c, 321 

precipice one should lean to the safest side ; an idea 
that they are, if not true, at least good to to be be- 
lieved, and that a salutary error is better than a dan- 
gerous truth. But that error can neither be salutary 
nor harmless, which attributes to the Deity injustice 
and cruelty ; and that religion must have the worst of 
tendencies, which renders it dangerous for man to im- 
itate the being whom he worships. Let those who 
hold such tenets consider,- that the invisible Creator 
has no name, and is identified only by his character ; 
and they will tremble to think what being they are 
worshipping, when they invoke a power, capable of 
producing existence in order to continue it in never- 
ending torments. The God of the Assembly's Cate- 
chism is not the same God with the Deity of Thom- 
son's Seasons, and of Hutcheson's Ethics. Unity of 
character, in what we adore, is much more essential 
than unity of person. We often boast, and with rea- 
son, of the purity of our religion, as opposed to the 
grossness of the theology of the Greeks and Romans; 
but we should remember that cruelty is as much worse 
than licentiousness, as a Moloch is worse than a satyr. 
— When will christians permit themselves to believe 
that the same conduct which gains them the approba- 
tion of good men here, will secure the favour of Heav- 
en hereafter? When will they cease making their 
court to their Maker by the same servile debasement 
and affectation of lowliness by which the vain poten- 
tates of the earth are flattered ? When a harmless and 
well-meaning man, in the exaggerated figures of theo- 
logical rhetoric, calls himself the vilest of sinners, it is 
in precisely the same spirit of false humility, in which 
the courtier uses degrading and disqualifying express- 
ions, when he speaks of himself in his adulatory ad- 
dresses to his sovereign. When a good man draws 



322 REMARKS ON 

near the close of a life, not free indeed from faults, 
but pure from crime, a life spent in the habitual exer- 
cise of all those virtues which adorn and dignify hu- 
man nature, and in the uniform approach to that per- 
fection which is confessedly unattainable in this im- 
perfect state ; when a man — perhaps like Dr. Price, 
whose name will be ever pronounced with affectionate 
veneration and deep regard by all the friends of phi- 
losophy, virtue, and mankind — is about to resign his 
soul into the hands of his Maker, he ought to do it, 
not only with a reliance on his mercy, but his justice ; 
a generous confidence and pious resignation should be 
blended in his deportment. It does not become him 
to pay the blasphemous homage of deprecating the 
wrath of God, when he ought to throw himself into 
the arms of his love. He is not to think that virtue is 
one thing here, and another in heaven ; or that he, on 
whom blessings and eulogiums are ready to burst from 
all honest tongues, can be an object of punishment 
with Him who is infinitely more benevolent than any 
of his creatures. 

These remarks may be thought foreign to the sub- 
ject in question ; but in fact they are not so. Public 
worship will be tinctured with gloom while our ideas of 
its object are darkened by superstition ; it will be in- 
fected with hypocrisy while its professions and tenets 
run counter to the genuine unperverted moral sense of 
mankind ; it will not meet the countenance of philoso- 
phers so long as we are obliged to unlearn our ethics, 
in order to learn divinity. Let it be considered that 
these opinions greatly favour immorality. The doc- 
trine that all are vile, and equally merit a state of pun- 
ishment, is an idea as consolatory to the profligate, 
as it is humiliating to the saint; and that is one 
reason why it has always been a favourite doctrine. 



MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 323 

The indecent confidence of a Dodd,* and the debas- 
ing terrors of a Johnson, or of more blameless men 
than he, spring from one and the same source. It 
prevents the genuine workings of real penitence, by 
enjoining confessions of imaginary demerit ; it quench- 
es religious gratitude, because, conceiving only of two 
states of retribution, both in the extreme, and feeling 
that our crimes whatever they may be, cannot have 
deserved the one, we are not sufficiently thankful for 
the prospect of the other, which we look upon as only 
a necessary alternative. Lastly, it dissolves the con- 
nexion between religion and common life, by introdu- 
cing a set of phrases and a standard of moral feeling, 
totally different from those ideas of praise and blame, 
merit and demerit, upon which we do and must act, 
in our commerce with our fellow-creatures. 

There are periods in which the human mind seems 
to slumber, but this is not one of them. A keen spi- 
rit of research is now abroad, and demands reform. 
Perhaps in none of the nations of Europe will their 
articles of faith, or their church establishments, or their 
modes of worship, be able to maintain their ground for 
many years in exactly the same position in which they 
stand at present. Religion and manners reciprocally 
act upon one another. As religion, well understood, 
is a most powerful agent in meliorating and softening our 
manners ; so, on the other hand, manners as they ad- 
vance in cultivation, tend to correct and refine our reli- 
gion. Thus, to a nation in any degree acquainted with 
the social feelings, human sacrifices and sanguinary 
rites could never long appear obligatory. The mild spi- 
rit of Christianity has, no doubt, had its influence in soft- 

* " And admitted, as I trust I shall be, to the realms of bliss before 
you, I shall hail your arrival there with transport, and rejoice to ac- 
knowledge that you was my comforter, my advocate, and my friend."— 
Letter from Dr. Dodd. to Dr. Johnson. See Boswell's Life of John- 
son, vol, ii. p. 140. 



243 MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY, &c. 

ening the ferocity of the Gothic times ; and the increas- 
ing humanity of the present period will, in its turn, pro- 
duce juster ideas of Christianity, and diffuse through 
the solemnities of our worship, the celebration of our 
sabbaths, and every observance connected with reli- 
gion, that air of amenity and sweetness, which is the 
offspring of literature and the peaceful intercourses of 
society. The age which has demolished dungeons, 
rejected torture, and given so fair a prospect of abolish- 
ing the iniquity of the slave-trade, cannot long retain 
among its articles of belief the gloomy perplexities of 
Calvinism, and the he art- withering perspective of cruel 
and never-ending punishments. 



THE END.